Albert Einstein once said, “Nothing happens until something moves.”
The romantic notion of doing something is quite a nice experience. It’s comfortable, as we imagine sharing fish stew with our Sherpa at basecamp. It’s seductive, as we daydream from our home, our office, and our car.
In the movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Walter is stricken with maladaptive daydreaming. It’s a condition where the afflicted craves for a life that is beyond his own. And these daydreaming episodes can be so deep and vivid that the person is not “here” anymore; they’re somewhere else.
In one scene, Cheryl, a coworker of Walter’s is talking with him when he zones out. She gets his attention by calling out his name and as he comes back, she asks him, “Where do you go”?
The scenes he creates in his mind are of him being a hero, an adventurer, and someone who stands up for himself with great confidence. It’s an amazing movie to watch, even just for the cinematography of these scenes, because they’re so fantastical. But, there’s a much deeper meaning to this movie.
One resource compares maladaptive daydreaming to substance abuse. It’s used to escape the self and an uncomfortable or unfulfilling life. It can be highly addictive.
Something inside Walter was longing for him to live and to be his true self; not this repressed version he’s acquiesced to for so many years. A mediocre and mundane existence, day after day.
The daydreaming is Walter’s escape to happiness. Without giving away the movie, something pushes him to go and do things way beyond his comfort zone. As he does, he rediscovers himself and truly begins to live.
Something happened when he moved. Something big.
But, we’re so good at talking ourselves out of things; out of life. Time, money, our job, and responsibilities can be such a drag. Frostbitten fingers sucks too. While those things are real, they’re not overwhelmingly restrictive. A little research and planning goes a long way.
We’re only hours from incredible places and only minutes from amazing experiences. Maybe we don’t go to Iceland this summer, but definitely within a year. It’s doable, but for now, we try jujitsu, join a wallyball league, buy a motorized skateboard, or just start walking. The activity isn’t as important as the act of just moving and doing.
When we lose our “excuses”, we gain all the power. We gain our freedom. This is where things can get scary, because now the responsibility is on us. We actually have to move, work, and go. This takes effort and a bit of risk. Any failure is ours to own.
But, the biggest step toward happiness is courage. The courage to drop the excuses, shedding them like a wet security blanket. Get up, move, go, and do. Live.
Something amazing will happen and we’ll never be the same.
Photo from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013); 20th Century Fox