Contentment, God, Now: Thoughts on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Perspective, Time, Trusting God

Now: Thoughts on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ed near water

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Hubby and I watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty a few weeks ago. We watched it again the following night. It spoke to us in its simple, yet poignant story line.

One thought that’s stayed with me is this: if I’m tuned out to the real—to the now—because I’m dreaming up a better present, I will miss the gift of today.

I’ll miss the small presents God places along my path. Be it a hug from one of our boys, being offered space to merge into heavy traffic, someone allowing me go before them in the checkout line at the store because I only have a few things…..

Traffic

If I’m seeking after what I think I want, I‘ll miss the blessings of what I have. Sometimes what we’re looking for is right in front of us. But if we’re searching elsewhere for it; we’ll miss the gift in the now.

If God’s given me this moment, shouldn’t I be seeking to be all in it? All present?

Sundial

It’s easy to dream of that day when I sign with an agent who loves my writing. That day when a book contract arrives in the mail, with an “X” at the bottom of the page, inviting my signature.

It’s easy to dream of the day when my  kids say, “Mom, you were right.” (I know. Don’t laugh too hard).

When I dream too much of what I don’t yet have—may never have—I miss out on the gift of the present. Of God’s presence.

Because really? If I don’t have “it” at this moment, then my Abba, who knows my needs from second to second, knows I don’t need that thing right now. He may gift it to me in the future, but in the now I don’t need it.

He’s given me everything I need for now. Everything necessary to fully live in this moment.

Peter opening gift

Walter Mitty dreamed of being heroic, of having a bigger life than he currently lived. He zoned out of the present to dream about what he wanted his life to be. But, he missed out on the treasures in his real life, the smiles. The opportunities to connect with others.

In seeking ways to be significant on a large scale, at least in his mind, he denied himself the gifts of his real life. A budding relationship with a nice lady. He missed—totally missed—the fact that a well-known photographer had more respect for him than Walter had for himself.

These are gifts.

Sunlight through leaves

When we run pell-mell after what we think we need—what we want—what gifts do we trample in the dirt under our feet?

I’m purposing to be fully present in each moment. It’s hard.

Grandfather clock face

The to-do’s on my daily list, the boys’ bickering because they’ve had too much ”brother bonding time,” the unwritten words for my book pinging in my head—all of these are temptations to zone out of the present.

Zucchini in bloom

But if I do—if we do—we miss the glimpses of God’s fingerprints on our days. We miss a deeper connection with those who people our lives. We miss knowing the presence of the Lord walking right beside us.

We miss out on joy. On knowing the pleasure our Father takes in us.

Yes, it’s easy to wish our actual present away, often in pursuit of the lesser. It’s easy to to yearn for something we don’t need in this moment.

Hands raised

Rather than doing this, maybe we can open our hands wide before God each morning. Let Him place His presents for the day in them, closing our fingers over the gifts only He can give.

What about you? What presents has God given you recently? How do you choose to live fully in the moment?

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24 thoughts on “Now: Thoughts on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”

  1. This is a very thought-provoking essay, and I thank you for the posting of it.

    I think that in many ways you are correct, but appreciating the moment can be taken too far.

    There is a military analogy, and that is to let the enemy make your tactical decisions. Instead of operating under a coherent plan, a unit can become completely reactive, “manipulated”, if you will, by circumstances created and utilized by the enemy. This is never good, and often fatal.

    Scripture uses the example of a man who begins building a tower without having the resources for its completion, and who becomes the object of ridicule for his neighbours.

    Obviating the present for a fantastical version thereof, or for a future built on dreams, is foolish and ungrateful. But we must apportion our time to appreciation, and to planning.

    And, Jeanne – I have come to this point from your comment about the words of your book taking time from the present. They are the present, and it is my feeling that neither you – nor I – are permitted to slight them, as our words are yoked into the service of the Gospel.

    The Gospel we serve is always in the present.

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    1. Surpreet, you bring up some good points. It’s definitely important to not allow our circumstances to manipulate us to the point where we are forced to react. I’m thinking I may not have expressed my thoughts as completely as I should have.

      Maybe it’s my stage in life, or my personality, but I find it so easy to be in a moment—for example, spending time with my boys—and instead of focusing on what they’re saying, on engaging with them, I am focusing on what I need to get done later in the day. When my mind is wandering to those items I need to do, rather than listening to them, engaging completely with them, then I lose out.

      You’re right that there is a time for everything—writing included. 🙂 But, when my mind is distracted by my story when I want to be engaged with the real people in my life, this is not good either. That being said, when I’m working on my story, I should be fully engaged in that rather than surfing on the internet, or on other things.

      And I agree with you, I would never want to slight the callings God has given me. They all receive time as God allows, and I want to fully engage in each activity and interaction. I’m not sure if this makes sense, but I hope it does.

      I appreciate your perspective. Thanks so much for sharing it!

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  2. Hi Jeanne,
    One day your boys will say “You’re right.” You’ll want to repeat the words and then you’ll throw your arms around them in a hug. It WILL happen.
    Thanks for the reminder to live in the moment God has given us.
    Blessings to you and the guys in your life!

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    1. Jackie, I look forward to that day, but I know it will probably be years before either of my boys truly mean those words. 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement. I’m so glad you stopped by. 🙂

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  3. Good morning Jeanne. My daily walk…4 miles…isn’t exactly “fun” every day! Sometimes I just plod along, head down, watching the pavement go by as I drag myself to the next mile!!! A few days ago, I looked up! There in the sky just right above, an eagle soared gracefully. It was a powerful moment for me. I stood there and watched him for about 5 minutes. Then, a little farther on the walk, I looked down and there was a monarch butterfly, wings closed. But, when I bent down and started to really look, its wings spread wide open and it flew away. Right before me. Right in front of me!! If I had kept my head down, I would have missed out. God showed me he is near. Through the wings of an eagle and a butterfly! I am so glad I didn’t miss out on His show.

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    1. Gail, how wonderful that you looked up! 🙂 I love when God surprises us with glimpses of His beauty and His care for us. I love that you saw an eagle and a monarch butterfly. I’ve been trying to snap a photo of one all summer. But alas, it hasn’t happened yet. 😉

      I’m so glad you didn’t miss out on His show either. Keep eyes wide open and looking up. 🙂

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  4. It all goes back to balance, doesn’t it? It’s hard. I tell the girls that I like to work a bit on writing … because they won’t always be home. They are teenagers … and if I keep pressing on a little each day, one day I might have more time to write … and I’ll already have so much learning under my belt. I can’t accomplish it all today … but I’m taking those baby steps. And I try to keep reminding myself that … small steps. And love in the present.

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    1. You’re right, Shelli. Balancing all the things in our lives is tricky. I try to set aside some writing time each day, but some days it just doesn’t happen. But while my boys are home, I want to engage fully with them. Keeping my mind and my heart both in the moment can be the hard thing.

      Thanks for the reminder that we can’t accomplish it all today. Sometimes I try to, and those are the days I end up frustrated. Small steps…..my phrase to ponder for today. Thanks for stopping by!

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    1. We are both learning, Lisa. The lesson keeps showing up. Each time I learn a little more how to live it out…..in the moment. I’m so glad you stopped by today! Let’s both find the joy today. 🙂

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  5. Going back and forth with your message and Surpreet’s response. Sometimes stress can be the response to something coming in the future~ which can come from fear. Planning must still be done; words must still be written; but GOD! Living fully in the present sometimes requires trust in God, faith in His input in the future. Then it is possible to let the stress leak out and live without fear in the present. Live fully as possible with God in the now. Thanks Jeanne. PS love the first picture! Gives new meaning to ‘catching the next wave’. Love it!

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    1. Mom, you’re right. Stress can drive us, sometimes in a direction other than the one we should be walking in. And I agree, fear often drives stress. When I take a moment and pray, oftentimes, God will still my spirit with His reassurance that He’s here, walking each step with me. Planning is good, and I try to write mine in pencil since some days God has different plans for me than I do. 🙂 Thanks for the important reminders today!

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  6. C. S. Lewis wrote: the present is where time touches eternity. I always has a hard time getting my head around that quote until lately. Yours is the third article in a week that I’ve read about being in the now. We also just watched and really liked Walter Mitty for the same reasons. As always, a convicting post. I’m putting my phone away now and going to be in the present — painting my basement! (Avoidance is one reason why we daydream don’t you think?) 🙂

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    1. I hadn’t heard that quote by C.S. Lewis. I’m so glad you shared it. I love it! And yes, sometimes daydreaming is definitely an avoidance tactic! You nailed me. 😉

      Your focus on what’s important in your life inspires me. I hope your painting goes well! I do not have the “gift of painting.” Enjoy your work today!

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  7. Love that movie. So much in it, yet so simple at the same time. These days everything seems to point to the one truth – tomorrow is not guaranteed. For any of us. We must be grateful for the here and now and for those living it alongside of us. 🙂

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    1. I love how you summed this up, Cathy. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Finding things to be grateful for in the now is wise. I agree, choosing thankfulness for those who live alongside us? Definitely. Sometimes it’s a choice though, isn’t it? 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. I’ve fulfilled several dreams, and the truth is that if I had it to do over I would give them a pass, and enjoy the riches already around me.

    I caught the brass ring, and in looking over my shoulder into the sacrificed past, I looked into eyes that I would never see again in this world. Eyes full of a love I didn’t quite see, because they were outshone by the glory to come.

    What a fool I was.

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    1. It’s hard to look back with wiser eyes and know regret. Andrew, my heart goes out to you. I’m praying grace deeper than you’ve known and that God’s mercy will comfort when that regret looms large in your thoughts. I hope you are able to enjoy the riches around you today. Praying friend.

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  9. Hi Jeanne,
    You have received some good comments. My wife and I really enjoyed that movie as well. I would like to see it a second time. Thanks for commenting on my writing goals post as well. Unfortunately I had a site problem and I had to upload a saved version which didn’t include the last post. Since it was such an important post for me, I reconstructed and re-posted it. Thanks for sharing your goals. Let me know how these ideas and your goals work out.

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  10. Jeanne, I love the Walter Mitty movie partly because it felt like they made the movie just to poke fun at me. I’ve spent most of my life someplace other than the HERE and NOW. I still need reminders to be present in the present. So, THANK YOU for your timely reminder in this insightful and enjoyable post!

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    1. I laughed at your “poking fun” comment. 🙂 We all need reminders to stay present in the present. I’ve spent too much time somewhere else too. Sometimes it takes a strong dose of reality to remind me we aren’t promised anything beyond this moment. Here’s to living in the now!

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  11. I recently found out the movie was a remake…of a 1947 movie, which was based on a short story, written and published in 1939, by James Thurber. Long life the short story! Living in the moment doesn’t mean you can’t re-imagine the past. 🙂

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    1. Peter, I didn’t know that about Walter Mitty, how fascinating. I guess having aspirations we hold close to our hearts is a thing that transcends generations. And I love that this movie idea came from a short story. Loved your thoughts here. Thanks for stopping by!

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