Walter Mitty

As children, we dreamed. I dreamed. I lay on my back in the middle of the soccer field and watched the clouds roll over head and imagined Peter Pan’s ship. The jets from Homestead Air Force base would fly over on maneuvers and I’d imagine being a fighter pilot. I jumped off bridges into canals curved into the limestone by the Army Corps of engineers. I climbed trees and flipped penny drops and imagined that one day I’d climb the water tower.

Then one day they tore the water tower down. And then John Rudd died. Committed suicide and it seemed that every competitive swimmer or catholic kid in Dade county was at his funeral. Somewhere between 9th and 10th grade, the world changed and it seemed like I put away all those childish dreams. There was no time for silly day dreams. Maybe it was just that I had always known joy, whimsy, frivolity and freedom. Being a grown up was none of those things. It was maturity, seriousness, responsibility and a loss of freedom.

Why did we rush towards being grown ups? And why has it felt like I have been chasing after the remnants of joy and the reckless freedom of my youth. Oh but to twirl until I am drunk with vertigo, to ride the tilt-o-whirl knowing I’ve eaten a soft serve cone and will likely puke it all back up. To dare and double dare your friends to do stupid idiotic things that our parents all thought were life threatening but really its that they are incongruous with having a mortgage and reproducing. To be an adult, we had to stop jumping off the roof into the swimming pool or riding our bikes no-handed. We had to stop having sex in the backs of parked cars and we needed to get serious.

And then 16 years later we ended up bored out of our minds, day dreaming in front of the vending machines at work like Walter Mitty, dreaming an imaginary life to make the pale absurdity of our mundane existence seem worthy. Until something – pray God something or someone – kicks us in the side of the head and makes us get up and grab life by the tail. We get a chance to get back on a skate board or we pop a wheelie on a bike or we pick up an instrument we haven’t played in ages. We have to take that chance. We are destined to come to that fork in the road and we must chose: stay as we are in the steady and safe proximity of the day-to-day OR pick door #2 and LIVE.

Some people were fortunate enough to have picked door #2 from the Get Go and they might be looking for a slower lane and a chance to take it easy. But for others, who had to shave off their mohawks and get a job at Papa Johns (go see Walter Mitty), it is a true blessing to discover a road back to who we once were, who we have always known ourselves to be: adventurous, brave and courageous.

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