This morning I received a message that my grandmother passed away last night. She was 85 years old. Apparently she went really fast, which makes me relieved that she didn’t suffer. I was not super close to her, however, she was one of those long lost friends that you see every 10 years and you start relating as though you had seen each other yesterday. And I do have some very fond memories of her in my younger years.
Also today, I was given a small “party” at work for 20 years of service at a corporate Fortune 500 company. It was the cliche’ work party get together in the taupe painted, neon lit conference room and a store bought cake. I could not have scripted it any more awkward and hapless. That is not to say that I am not grateful for the coworkers or our administrative assistant’s effort. I am. The thought just occurs to me, between my grandmother’s death and my extremely ordinary work life, I am caught in the moments of life where we say to ourselves, there is more to life than this. I am reminded of my humanity and what is truly important to spend my life doing.
So that brings me to the story of Walter Mitty, made famous on the silver screen in 1947, then again by a Ben Stiller movie in 2013. Walter Mitty was actually invented by a man named James Thurber and the short story of Walter Mitty was published in The New Yorker in 1939. Boiled down, Walter Mitty represents the ordinary, ineffectual man living the typical, uneventful existence who daydreams about fantastic triumphs. Walter Mitty was invented to represent the ordinary guy who never DOES anything meaningful himself in life. He is the guy that lays on his death bed and regrets his choices.
The Walter Mitty story is about men that TALK (daydream) but never DO. Yes, Walter Mitty works a job. He does the daily grind. He puts in the 40+ hours a week only to go home and do his homeowner chores while he dreams of another life. BUT, he never takes any ACTION to live that dream. He NEVER takes steps to create the events he wants to experience. Unfortunately, far too many men can be put in to the Walter Mitty stereotype. How about you?
Why do men CHOOSE to be Walter Mitty? Why do we create excuses to delay the creation of the experiences we want in life and then daydream about it?
The answer, brother, is FEAR. We are afraid of the consequences of our actions. We are afraid to step out of our comfort zone. We are afraid we will lose something we have if we go after what we want. We are afraid of rejection. We are afraid of disappointing those around us. We are afraid we will fail. We are afraid of danger.
Seriously, are you afraid of pissing off the wife? Are you afraid you will spend money she thought was for her? Are you afraid failure will leave you broke or broken? Are you afraid you can’t rise to the task? Are you afraid of losing?
What is your fear? What is keeping you from creating what you want to experience in life?