When my mother was 51, she was busy getting ready to die, but she didn’t know this yet. Well, maybe she did know it on some level, but she never talked about it with me pre-diagnosis so I really can’t be sure. Certainly none of us, her children, her husband, knew it yet.
I’m 51. At 51, I feel like I am still becoming who I am. At 51, her life was drawing to a close.
Seeing The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has me thinking about things like this today. Walter Mitty is about many things. It’s about living your life, but also it’s about how you live it. You can spend it offsides, thinking about what you wish you were doing or imagining all that you’d like to (someday) do. Or, you can, at any time, decide to actually do the thing(s) that you thought you could not ever do.
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
In the movie, it was a fine line. Walter Mitty crossed it. I don’t think that my mother ever crossed it. I am wondering if I have crossed it.
Interwoven throughout Mitty are images of his past that are meaningful to him. They are there to let him know that a) he is on the right track and that b) both of his parents, his dad who had died when he was 17, and his mother who was still alive and baking clementine cakes for him, were there supporting him every step of the way.
For me, the real message of this movie is this: No matter what, we are always our parents’ child.