There is a bit of Walter Mitty within us all. That part of us that dreams of adventure, excitement, new directions and acknowledgement. Do you still daydream? I know as a youngster I was always in dreamland. The dreams became scarcer after I had to make a living in the real world. That is probably when most of us start to dream less year after year. Walter Mitty however kept on dreaming as an adult. His creative soul kept pestering him while a safe life tried to keep him locked into a grey existence.
If you recall the story in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is about an average guy leading a dull life ironically working for Life Magazine. I am referring to the recent remake of the movie starring Ben Stiller. Walter is in charge of the photography processing and archives for Life magazine. Once again a world filled with art from the world's best photographers. Walter gets to see these images and makes sure that they are printed in the magazine. Naturally his imagination is fueled by these images and he dreams of leading an exciting life which will also help him win the love of a beautiful woman.
Walter is finally propelled by a crisis at work to seek out a famous photographer. We get to see that the universe is constantly placing opportunities before us if we choose to look for them. It reminds me also of the Mission Impossible message that says "...your mission, should you choose to accept it...". Walter finally chooses to accept his mission and take an opportunity, which leads to another and so it goes. Walter is finally living the life he once only dreamed about. Is it easy? No it is hard work and not always safe, but that is never part of the equation. It comes down to accepting your life's potential or simply existing.
Walter Mitty has an artist within him. He deals with photographs and knows what is a powerful image. He knows what is art, but lives vicariously through other artists. Until he chooses to live his own art. To create something unique and special with his life. Is this not true for all of us?
If our lives are something we get to create through choices and action then we are creating something unique. Life does not require us to sacrifice ourselves to an idea. The myth of the office, promotions and retirement at 65. The idea that one way is the only way. Sacrifice to these ideas is not an authentic way to live.
I think that we are misled by fear into these paths more than any other emotion. Of course we know that following a career out of fear is not a recipe for a fulfilling life. Neither is simply doing nothing. No we are required to work and create. The question is what are we meant to do?
An artist will see opportunities and know what is required once fear is put aside. That is the making of a brave man.
Be brave and do your art.