It’s Christmas night. Our kids have all grown up now and our traditions have morphed over the years since they left the nest. We moved from nobody-up-until-sunrise rules to sleeping in and opening presents when we get to them. Even when one or the other child is with us for the holiday, they whole-heartedly embrace the new Christmas since no grandkids are yet demanding early morning Santa. We wake leisurely, enjoy coffee and cinnamon rolls, and eventually take our time opening gifts. Then, we go to the movie.
Just one of our three was home for Christmas this year, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was the unanimous movie choice between her and us.
We had one of those Christmases this time where we were just too busy to get it together. I told you a few weeks ago that Halloween and then Thanksgiving were still hanging around our house when our neighbors were marching Christmas onto their lawns. We scurried and managed a minimum but doable decorative swap during Icemageddon’s forced downtime a couple of weeks ago. We finished shopping last night on the way home from Christmas Eve service. A last minute flurry of wrapping and, thankfully, Christmas was ready by midnight — officially before Christmas Day, but oh so barely.
With all the rush, my mind wandered worriedly through these past days to my column for this week. My husband dropped the topic unwittingly into my lap on the way home from the movie. “Too bad for Walter Mitty that he didn’t live in a place like Denton. He could have found himself a lot sooner,” Tim observed.
And there it was — just the gem I was looking for. So astute is that husband of mine. How right he is!
Walter Mitty is the story of a fellow lost in daydreams, believing himself powerless to actually live beyond the day-to-day grind. He dreamed adventure but lacked the will or courage to live it. His imagination was full of feats, romance and confidence. But real life, responsibility and fear painted his environment. The bridge between dream and reality was nowhere in Walter Mitty’s field of vision.
When Tim made his statement, of his own volition and with no prodding from me, he said of Denton exactly what we believe of ourselves. We are a place that welcomes dreamers to identify and explore their individual callings. Artists, athletes, musicians, writers, researchers, chefs, students, entrepreneurs and those who thrive in creative climates find Denton’s wealth of originality to be a fertile field where dreams really can come true.
Perhaps you, as I have, wonder if anyone out there gets us. Do they truly realize what is going on in our little hotbed of the world? According to Tim, Denton is the most natural answer for the Walter Mittys out there.
I am inspired as I consider 2014. We’re starting out with a bang at the Heart of Dallas Bowl on New Year’s Day. UNT’s Mean Green is setting the bar high for the rest of us. Like Walter Mitty, they’ve had a dream for years. Unlike Walter Mitty, they have worked diligently to make that dream a reality. Now here we are.
Midlake, a household indie band name across the world, calls Denton home. They also set the bar high. Against tremendous odds over the past year, these guys produced and released their new album in November and are riding the charts to the top even now. Now, Midlake’s dream is coming true and we, Denton, are riding the wave of success with them and with the Mean Green and with countless other dreamers in our midst.
I love this attribute of Denton’s character. I see open arms that embrace and accept in spite of our differences. I see community that welcomes and includes, celebrating our diversity. I see opportunity and outlets and open doors. I see Walter Mitty dreaming in peace but not stopping there. He’s in Denton where the journey to reality is nurtured and safe. Life is the ultimate adventure, after all. And fortunately for us, Denton is a rare physicality where living the dream unfolds every day.
KIM PHILLIPS is vice president of the Denton Convention & Visitors Bureau at the Denton Chamber of Commerce. She loves promoting Denton’s original, independent spirit through the city’s sense of place and cast of many characters. She can be reached at email@example.com.