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Ben Stiller may not know it, but his new movie, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” is a paean to the joys of travel writing and/or photography as a choice lifestyle. So here’s my professional travel writer’s analysis of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”: In the flick, Stiller plays a mild-mannered negative assets manager (a job as dull as it sounds) for Life Magazine, spending his waking hours care-taking and apprising photo negatives sent in by globe-spanning photographers, back when cameras used something called “film.” (I’m looking at you, Milennials…) However, he also has frequent “daydreaming hours” in which he escapes into far-fetched fantasies where he has great adventures, starring him. But then, as fate (and plot necessities) would have it, he is forced to embark on a world-roving quest in search of a missing negative for the “quintessential” Life photo, taken by raffish photographer Sean Penn. And what a quest it is. Mitty goes to Greenland! Iceland! The Himalayas! He flies a postal helicopter! Dives headfirst into shark-infested waters! Faces down an erupting volcano! By the end of the movie, his travel adventures have transformed him into one confident and emboldened dude, who has secured the photo negative, won the girl of his dreams, told off his dominating boss, and appeared on the cover of the final print edition of Life magazine. More significantly, by film’s end, Mitty has stopped all his daydreaming. Why? Because he’s living his dream life. And that’s why the film’s a “commercial” for becoming a travel writer. Because travel enabled Mitty’s “dreams” to become reality. There’s also little doubt in my mind that immediately after the closing credits finish rolling, Mitty recounts his tales in written form, and becomes a fabulously successful travel writer himself. For most of us, travel remains a fantasy, the thing we will do “one day” when we have more time/money/a support system. But the good news about being a travel writer is that “one day” can be today. You don’t have to wait for a quirky plot device to get started. Nor do you have to start off as a milquetoast, swim with sharks, hang precipitously from Himalayan mountaintops, or outrun boiling lava! (Although, you know, you can). You may, in fact, be predisposed in the exact opposite direction: being pampered in the poshest spas, being bathed in state-of-the-art age-defying oils, or becoming a globe-trotting oenophile.  And hey, who could blame you? Travel writing topics are as vast as the world itself. And the best part is, you don’t even have to leave home to get started.  Remember: Your home town is someone else’s “foreign destination.” Take some time this weekend to think about what most interests you where you live: restaurants, outdoor activities, landmarks, special events, etc. And then go out and experience them.   We’ve just entered the New Year, which is the perfect time to make a resolution to “unleash your secret Mitty,” and to turn your travel-writing daydreams into reality… even if they start in your own backyard. Share on Facebook

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