The Purpose of Life
“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”
Last night my little family of three sat down together to watch the new release of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and, while it was met with mixed-reviews by the critics, I was enthralled. It’s not often these days that a movie can both delight and make you think – and, for me, it succeeded in both. In this adaptation of one of my favorite books, Walter works for LIFE magazine, at the digital crossroads that brings its demise, and in an effort to recover the “quintessential” image for the final cover, journeys to find himself.
Walter, when his father died, had taken on the “responsible role” for his family as a young man, and in doing so, spent a great deal of time disappearing into the adventures in his mind. There, the conversations he’d like to have with the bullies of the world would play out. There, in his mind, he would charm the beautiful women, fight the good fight, and be the hero of the day. And over the course of the film we watch him transform as he learns to get out of his head and take action in life.
And while we may not all have as rich a fantasty-life as Walter Mitty, I think our challenge is the same. In the face of all the responsibilities and “shoulds” and safeguards we’ve put in place, how can we find the courage to get out of our own way to be the person we’ve always wanted to be? To have that person show up – for real – in our actions rather than living like superheroes in our minds?
I don’t think there’s a watershed moment in which everything changes and all of the sudden we find the bravery to get up and take on our greatest challenges. We don’t wake up one day and find ourselves courageous, we discover ourselves one small step at a time. Courage begets courage.
©OnStage Leadership, 2014; Kimberly Davis is the Founder/Director of OnStage Leadership, a full-day experiential leadership workshop.
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