Secret Life of Walter Mitty: You don't go alone
*This is a follow-up post to "Let it Breathe" on 2/6/18 and may include "spoilers" from the film "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."*
You don't actually go it alone.
One of the great icons of American masculinity is the image of the "lone wolf"...the man who needs no one and nothing, save for his wits, his rugged good looks, and the occasional female dalliance, and who always wins at the end of the story.
Frontiersmen. Jason Bourne. John Wayne. James Bond (who's British, but whatever).
As I watch "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," I'm struck by just how easy it is to buy this narrative again if I'm not paying attention.
A cursory glance seems to show the classic male story arc. One man sets out alone in search of adventure...in search of finding himself...and does...and returns home changed to win the girl and tell off the a-holes in his life...and win.
Except he doesn't.
Without Sean O'Connell's spiritual intervention from the photograph on the wall, Walter never leaves his safe, passive, soul-crushing small story to enter into a larger one.
Without Ted from e-Harmony, Walter never has the companion that witnesses his life from pre-transformation to redeemed and restored new man and who can marvel with him at the change.
Without the introduction of Cheryl's son, Walter never gets to reawaken his inner child...the part of him, even as a grown man, that is still in desperate need of play and adventure.
Without the helicopter pilot, the fighter within Walter continues to lie dormant.
Without the Icelandic hotel keeper, Walter's dead in a volcano eruption.
And let us not forget the woman...
Without Cheryl, Walter is never inspired to play the true man. Without Cheryl. Walter never pieces together the clues of his adventure. Without Cheryl, Walter never leaves the bar in Greenland to leap onto a helicopter. Without Cheryl, Walter doesn't get to process the pain of his youth and the death of his father.
As John Eldredge says in "Wild at Heart", every man aches for 3 things...
1. An adventure to live
2. A battle to fight
3. A beauty to fight for
And none of those things happen alone.