The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: Staying in the Moment

Posted: September 8, 2014 by jperritt in Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Tags: , , , ,

The-Secret-Life-of-Walter-Mitty-2013-Movie-PosterNot too long ago I shared some thoughts about The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this film.  I understand that the film may seem a bit bizarre to some, but so is our thought life – in many ways it’s just a commentary on any individual’s thoughts throughout the day.  However, one scene I wanted to highlight was a conversation that takes place between Walter and Sean O’Connell [Sean Penn].

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, Sean has been sending his pictures to Walter (who works at Time magazine) for years.  He feels that Walter is one of the few who actually understands what he is communicating through his pictures.  Walter and Sean have had a relationship for years without ever meeting each other.  However, after Walter’s surreal adventure in search of Sean, he finally meets him on a secluded mountain-top while Sean is attempting to take a picture of a snow leopard, or “ghost cat.”  Sean explains the reasoning for the name is due to the fact that so few have actually been able to snap a picture of them.

While Sean has been waiting on this mountain-top for this rare picture, the ghost cat emerges from hiding.  As Sean’s hesitance to snap this once-in-a-lifetime picture begins to bother Walter (and the viewer), he urges him to take the picture.  Listen to the interaction:

Walter Mitty: When are you going to take it?
Sean O’Connell: Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.
Walter Mitty: Stay in it?
Sean O’Connell: Yeah. Right there. Right here.

Sean explains that, “Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.”  Now, I understand that many people have blogged/ mused/discussed this reality in light of our ever-sharing-Instagram-Facebook-Twitter-culture, but I thought it’d be worth sharing again (Yes! I understand the irony of sharing it through a blog…which will also be shared through social media).  What’s interesting is how our over-sharing culture is picking up on this phenomena.  Take comedian, and father-of-five, Jim Gaffigan’s Dad is Fat (if you’ve read his book you understand the intro I just gave Gaffigan):

As parents, we can’t stop taking pictures of our kids.  “Hey, take a picture of that.  We’ll never look at it.”  We take pictures of everyday life and act like we are capturing history.  “Unbelievable! The cat is asleep.”  Click.  I’ve calculated that if I showed you all the pictures I have of just my six-year-old, it would take roughly six years.  It kind of defeats the point, right?  I suppose this happens because we have cameras on our phones.  Do we need that?  It’s not like ten years ago we were thinking, “I wish I could take a low-quality photo of my dessert and text it to someone who’s not interested.”  Remember when photos were special?  It was not that long ago.

I guess the point others have made from similar posts, and the point Walter Mitty and Jim are trying to make (as well as this post), is lamenting the fact that we are missing moments of our life.  We think snapping pictures of “the moment” are helping us preserve them, but often times we are missing them – simply perpetuating this distracted culture that has become the norm.

Now, for all those who may be guilt-ridden over the amount of sharing you do via social-media, turn that frown upside-down.  Take those low-quality pics as much as your little heart desires.  But, maybe holster that smart-phone from time-to-time.  Instead of longing for the “likes” and “comments” you may receive from a family outing, enjoy the family at the outing.  As great as it may seem to share moments in community, enjoy the community called family.

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