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In search of Walter Mitty

To see life; to see the world; to eyewitness great events; to watch the faces of the poor and the gestures of the proud; to see strange things — machines, armies, multitudes, shadows in the jungle and on the moon; to see man’s work — his paintings, towers and discoveries; to see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to; the women that men love and many children; to see and take pleasure in seeing; to see and be amazed; to see and be instructed.

Those were the grand, and inspiring words LIFE magazine’s founder and publisher, Henry Luce, wrote in 1936, when he outlined his vision for his new publication.

One element I love about this quote is the ‘now-ness’ of it.  “To see” – not to ‘one day’ have these experiences, but rather to find them in our ‘now’.  To experience life to the fullest ‘now’.

In March 2000, Time Inc. (who by then owned the publication) announced it would cease regular publication of Life with the May issue.

This event is the moment in time in which one of my favourite movies, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, is based.

Essentially, Mitty (Ben Stiller) is a Negative Assets Manager (managing the photos and negatives) who, despite as a teenager having dreams of travelling the world and experiencing amazing adventures, has only managed to go to Arizona, and to Nashville (but just Nashville airport, in transit to Arizona).

I won’t give away the rest of the film, but a huge proportion of it is filmed in Iceland as Mitty learns to live the LIFE vision…

So, I decided for my birthday this year, I am going to go in search of the locations in one of my all-time inspirational films.

Last year I was in England for my birthday, but after months of looking forward to a particular event that I had booked, it ended up being one of the saddest of times to the point that I wasn’t sure I wanted to bother with celebrating my birthday again.

…but I am a Pollyanna, after all, so I’ve decided to only only celebrate my birthday, I am going to do so for the entire time I am here in Iceland!

My birthday is September 13th and as weather can be unpredictable here, I have decided to make this entire trip a celebration and to go in search of Walter Mitty.

…but this is more than merely looking for filming locations…


This movie represents to me the reality of Michael Landon’s quote.

We seem to think that we have all the time there is… but what if your dream was to go to the top of the World Trade Centres ‘one day’?

  • What if your dream was to ‘one day’ visit the incredible Azure Window in Malta (the one that was featured in ‘Game of Thrones’? (it collapsed in 2017)
  • Perhaps you wanted to ‘one day’ dive the coral reef off Christmas Island in Australia?  (90% of it died off mysteriously in 2016)
  • What if you want to ‘one day’ see the iconic snow peaks on Mount Kilimanjaro? (in recent years the ice sheet has shrunk by 85% and continues to disappear at an astounding rate)
  • Maybe you wanted to ‘one day’ ride the wild water rides at Disney’s River Country? (it was closed in 2001)
  • Perhaps you wanted ‘one day’ to experience The Guairá Falls, a series of enormous waterfalls that once flowed down the Paraná River between Paraguay and Brazil?  (the construction of a dam in 1982 basically turned them off)
  • What if ‘one day’ you want to visit The Cave of Altamira, located in the Cantabria region of northern Spain, to see examples of Paleolithic art, some dating back 22,000 years?  (due to the presence of so many tourists, the cave was closed in 2002)…
  • Maybe you wanted to see another new Robin Williams’ film; meet Diana Princess of Wales; hear Freddie Mercury at a live concert; see all the members of the Eagles perform together; experience in person the antics of Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter; or witness ‘what next’ from the mind of Steve Jobs…?
  • …or maybe you said ‘one day’ we will visit a particular relative or friend… and they, too, have now passed…

A friend of mine always wanted to go to France with her husband and attaching a lock to the Pont des Arts “love lock bridge” in Paris.  I heard many times about how they had made plans to “one day” visit the landmark and re-declare their love for one another…

Alas, due to the weight of the locks on the structure, in 2015, workers began removing the locks and later replaced the railings with glass panels.

No more “love lock bridge”… and no more ‘one day’.

Walter Mitty at the beginning of the film essentially lives out his fantasies and his ‘one day’s in his imagination – and while I realise not everyone is able to take off on a moment’s notice and go to Paris to put a lock on a bridge, how many dreams do we have that we simply relegate to ‘one day’…

So, in honour of every one of us who realises the importance of ‘now’, and who is doing everything we can to live our best lives…  I am dedicating this trip to the Walter Mitty in each of us.

At the beginning of this year, I wrote a ‘decade in review’ (http://luxuriousnomad.com/decade-in-review/).

I didn’t realise it at the time, but that post is basically my personal testimony to Mr Luce’s vision…  It is filled with amazing experiences I have had, people I have met, places I have seen…

“…to see and take pleasure in seeing; to see and be amazed; to see and be instructed.”

If we add, “to live happily in each and every moment, to learn, to share, to leave a legacy, but most importantly to love and be loved,” that, in my opinion, is the quintessence of life…

~ Bella

Before I share my afternoon's meanderings, here are some photos of the place in Scotland I just left... apparently as soon as I departed, the heavens opened up and there was flooding and landslides!  Obviously it was sad and weeping... We have had a little rain here but mostly just…
First job for the morning - packing Harry Hyundai, ready for our adventures, with things such as: Water Phone gadgets and power cable Extra jacket Hiking sticks Map (the physical kind - remember them?) Tripod Small backpack Protein bars Hand sanitiser wipes Camera batteries Additional power pack for phone Eyeliner and…

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