Life awaits, by Charlie Grosso

Have you seen The Secret Life of Walter Mitty?

There are these moments of sublime, of LIFE experienced. Us humble travel writers attempt to wrangle these moments into words, us hubris photographers hunt for these bits of magic with celluloid, us poetic filmmakers conjure with all our might. Except those moments are as illusive as snow leopards and the paltry evidence we manager to bring you are merely ghosts.

I’m sorry we’ve been feeding you table scraps. We try. We really do.

In Ben Stiller’s new movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Stiller manages to capture that moment, that feeling, the reason why we travel, why we risk, why we live. Towards in the end of the film, the title character Walter finally tracks down the famous and hard to find Sean O’Connell on the side of a mountain in the Himalayas trying to photograph snow leopards. Where is negative number 25? Walter wants to know. Sean wanted that frame for the last cover of LIFE magazine. Due to a cruel twist of fate, the negative is lost and there is nothing to be done.

The two men sit on the side of the mountain and ponder the lost. Just then, the illusive snow leopard appears. Sean doesn’t move to photograph it. He says, “sometimes it is so beautiful, I just want to be here with it.”


…Sometimes that moment is so beautiful, you just want to be there, with it, in it and not disrupt it with a camera.

They see a group of men playing soccer in a made up pitch down the hill and they join them. They play.

Watching the snow leopard and playing soccer with the locals. When you read these words on the page it seems so insignificant, pedestrian even, except … the magic within those moments is what we are all in desperate search of.

To see the world, things dangerous to come, to see behind walls, to draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of LIFE. – LIFE magazine’s mission

Walter’s day dreaming stopped when he quit thinking and started doing. His sense of trepidation lessened when he simply went and the what-ifs silenced. That is when life begins.

I’m thinking about the road again.

I’m thinking about the road and wonder where I should go next and the reason to be there (now that Wok the Dog is complete – what is the next creative project that will focus the wanderlust – maybe simply being there and feed the wanderlust is enough).

The road is calling. LIEF is waiting.