“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” starring, directed, and co-produced by Ben Stiller, is an adventure comedy that follows the trials and tribulations of Walter Mitty – a fumbling, bored negative assets manager at Life Magazine, with a rich fantasy world featuring his superhero alter ego – as he attempts to track down a missing photograph gifted to him by photojournalist Sean O’Connell. The missing image, photo #25, perfectly captures the ‘quintessence of Life’, according to O’Connell, and must be used as the final issue cover before Life becomes an entirely online platform. Subtle. `The ensuing search to find this perfect shot becomes the catalyst that finally forces Mitty to follow his dreams. Mitty travels the world searching for the image and, subconsciously, a sense of self. His banal daily routine usually finds him working 9-5 in a dark office, pining over a woman whom he believes is out of his league, and being taunted by his colleagues for daydreaming, but this unfortunate man is replaced by a real-life adventurer – skateboarding through Iceland, jumping on moving helicopters, and backpacking through the Himalayas.
The first time I watched this film, I was in Year 11 at an all-girls school. Commuting from Waiheke Island on the ferry every day was a routine that was beginning to feel very mundane. I remember seeing this film promos and initially thinking – “Ben Stiller… It’s gonna be a lighthearted romp” like ‘There’s Something About Mary’ – which, don’t get me wrong, is a banger. Instead, I left the cinema feeling inspired. I hoped that when I was old enough, I would have the courage to take risks and have adventures like Mitty. A few years later, towards the end of my first year at uni, I began to feel listless and found myself imagining what was out in the big wild world for me. Remembering Mitty’s adventures, I finished my end of year exams, packed my bags and moved to California. For shits and gigs. As a dual citizen I was able to work and get great tips thanks to my “weird” accent. I balanced hard work with fun and friendship until finally I had saved enough money to flee the country again, and travel Europe with my best friend. Together we visited as many places as we could, on a hostel-hopping budget – France, Amsterdam, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Hungary, UK, Sweden. When I returned to New Zealand one year and four days later feeling proud and invigorated, I got straight back into uni. The routine began again. Working, commuting, studying. This time, instead of letting the repetition get to me, I took inspiration from Walter Mitty’s own revelation.
When Mitty finally uncovers the missing image, which had been in his wallet at home all along… He discovers the ‘quintessence of Life’ was an image of him simply sitting outside of his workplace, living his life. What this means to me is that you don’t have to do crazy and adventurous things to be happy, or to succeed. Though, you definitely can and it will be fantastic. You can find joy in routines, and choose to find light and life in any situation.
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 can pinto beans
1 block firm tofu
1/2 red onion
1 cup sliced lettuce
1/2 cup cashews
1 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 veggie stock cube
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 cloves garlic
1. In a pan, add 1/4 of an onion diced, 1 clove of finely diced garlic, veggie stock, 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast, and a pinch of tahine. Pour in 1 tsp of water to create a liquidy mixture, then crumble in tofu and coat entirely in mixture. Cook until lightly crispy on the outside.
2. In a pot, add beans, remaining garlic, juice of 1/2 a lime, 1 tbsp water, tahine, and salt. Cook until beans are slightly softer, and heavily bubbling. Drain out water, then mash completely. Add more lime juice if too dry. Salt to taste.
3. Cook rice according to instructions on the packet.
4. Soak cashews in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and add cashews to a blender, with the juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 tbsp nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt, and 2 tbsp of water. Blend until smooth. Add more water if consistency is too thick.
5. To serve, combine all ingredients and top with fresh coriander and lime wedges and enjoy!