Per Aspera Ad Astra

This widespread Latin expression literally means “A rough road leads to the stars” or “To the stars through difficulties”. To rephrase,  there are no victories without battles. Or, to put it more simply – no pain, no gain.

Recently I had a discussion with a friend of mine on my post “I’m not an idiot – I am a dreamer!” which talked about the film “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. In that post I portrayed the film’s main character Walter Mitty as an example of a man who finds power and courage to take the responsibility and change his grey life into a bright adventure. In contrast, my friend suggested that Forrest Gump – another famous film character – was much more responsible, brave and adventurous than Walter Mitty. Such comparison led me to a few interesting thoughts.

I partially agree with my friend’s opinion. Indeed, Forrest Gump displays determination and courage in many situations, like saving his fellow soldiers in the Vietnam War, or standing up for the love of his life when she got slapped, for instance. However, Walter Mitty also decides to perform a deed at some moment, and does so, and changes his life drastically. There is yet a more important difference between the two characters.

It is true that Gump makes amazing achievements, like doing a trans-American marathon or building up a super-profitable shrimp company out of nothing. Still, this seems to be easy for him, while Mitty strains himself and walks on the “road of thorns” towards progress. Forrest Gump is naturally endowed with such qualities as perseverance, determination, etc. On the other hand, his attitude is somewhat ‘automatic’, meaning he just keeps running in his life (“Run, Forrest, run!”). Perhaps this came from his childhood when he had to run away from bullies; since that he keeps running and achieves amazing goals, but without really being aware what is happening. In comparison, Walter Mitty makes conscious efforts to make a change. AWARENESS AND CONSCIOUS SELF-IMPROVEMENT – this is what really distinguishes a dreamer and truth-seeker Mitty from a noble “running man” Forrest Gump.

By the way, the background song that comes up several times in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”. This song matches perfectly the film’s idea as it is also about the need to venture out for the unknown. I truly believe absolutely everyone can take up this attitude, not just the movie heroes. For a start, simply taking a different route from home to work can be a discovery. Anyone can find the unusual in his life if he looks for it.

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