Declarations of Independence–Self-Identifying

The new Walter Mitty era–“when you dream, no request is too extreme.”

Posted Jul 02, 2015

Walter Mitty moments, he’s certainly had them. Who hasn’t?

In his secret life, the widowed father of two splendid well-adjusted kids (young adults) has flights of fancy (fantasy, actually). 

By himself, tipped back in the high-end recliner chair purchased back in his well-compensated days (a Thos. Moser chaise – not a La-Z-Boy or a Barcalounger), he occasionally imagines himself a war hero of special-ops bravado; an undercover espionage agent dealing in international intrigue and daring under-fire rescues; a humble miracle-working surgeon celebrated as a humanitarian; an iron-man triathlete defying age and cancer; a screenwriter enlarging his mantel place for yet another Oscar and yet another Golden-Globe.

Recognition – acclaim for actual accomplishment, and the lure of self-identification

Daydreams.  Harmless, kept to himself.  If pressed, he would acknowledge that he harbors a need for recognition; a desire for acclaim.  An earned acclaim – an acclaim for significant meaningful accomplishment.

Those daydreams and fantasies are “short subjects” – which do not take him beyond the recliner chair.  They do not intrude on his actual, unassuming, roles in the various workplaces where he has managed to secure part-time work. 

He does not fall victim to the confusions and self-deceptions James Thurber scripted for the hapless Walter Mitty in the short story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”

The daydreams and fantasies spun from the recliner chair by the part-time-employee (and full-time father) do not play out beyond the recliner chair.  He would never imagine becoming the kind of con artist whose exploits were revealed in the autobiographical crime drama “Catch Me If You Can.”

Perhaps he doesn’t have the confidence to be a confidence man.  His psychological make-up would never drive him to misrepresentation and impersonation, and fraud.

And yet, and yet – he finds himself intrigued by the self-identification phenomenon.  Truly transformative.  There’s the lure.

He’s never been remotely trendy, let alone a trend-setter.  Liberated by the new vogue, the new norm, he now has license to see himself (imagine himself) in guises and territories that he can tour, thanks to the “passport” of self-identification.

Embarking, he tips back into his recliner chair and begins to redefine himself.

Redefining himself – for fun, even if no profit

In the confines of his recliner chair, he decides to self-identify as wealthy.  Okay, maybe not at the billionaire level.  No Forbes 400 richest, but rich.  Not famous and formidable.  No, the financial titan thing would be too much of a stretch.  And yet, the multi-millionaire stratosphere is within his fantasy range.  A near-space exploration.

The father of those two splendid kids has been making ends meet by cobbling together part-time work – some forensic auditing, seasonal accounting and some bookkeeping consultations.  He’s even taught at a community college and in a prison. 

While very grounded and focused on what he can do to actually make money legitimately, to do right by his kids and their tuitions, room and board (point of pride for him), his thoughts do wander.  At the end of a day, even a productive and remunerative day (but especially after an uncompensating day), he scripts and directs himself into other roles. 

Commissioner of the National Football League

To break with the inconsistencies and bumblings of the current commissioner, Roger Goodell, he imagines that the owners of NFL franchises beg him to restore some clarity, modesty, dignity and decency to the game that has become central in comedy playbooks, the turf of lampooners.

He sees himself assuming a lower profile on draft night and presentation ceremonies.  He will not pose with each of the newly-drafted players, moments after their selection is announced.  After all, he had nothing to do with their collegiate records or their feats of strength, speed, and agility at the NFL combine. 

Instead, under his reign, at the draft-night podium, the NFL team cap and jersey will be presented to the respective draftees by youngsters who have been flown in, for the weekend, from the children’s hospitals located in proximity to the respective NFL teams’ home stadiums.

On the stage erected for the presentation of the MVP and Super Bowl trophies, he will delegate those honors to military veterans escorted by children whose travels and accommodations have been arranged by the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

President of FIFA

His experience as a forensic accountant and auditor should qualify him for spearheading efforts to uncover extortion, bribes, kick-backs, improper asset transfers, and other sorts of corruption.  Rather than payoffs, he made “pay-ins” to support his son’s soccer travel team.  

CEO of Disney motion pictures

“Mars Needs Moms” – “The Lone Ranger” – “John Carter”

Surely he could do better.  After all, the Disney Company told millions that if they wished upon a star, it “makes no difference who you are.”

He would like to locate that special “dreams-come-true” star, because, according to the lyrics, “Anything your heart desires… If your heart is in your dream, No request is too extreme.”

Anchor of ABC’s “This Week” Sunday morning interview show

He’s available.  Even if he has to get up really early Sunday mornings; even if he has to do show prep all day Saturday (even during football season).  Heck, he was up before dawn to take his son to ice hockey practice, and he always managed to get his daughter to science fairs and expositions in plenty of time for her to set up her science-project displays.   

Thumbing through his little checkbook register (the pocket-size one), he notes that he made modest contributions to a few organizations that respond to the medical needs and circumstantial predicaments of children; to a veterans organization; a public library; and to the STEM organization that awarded his daughter a sizable scholarship.  None of these organizations are managed by, or are an agency for, anyone in the electoral sphere.  So, no conflicts.

Now admittedly – okay, okay – he doesn’t exactly have the voice let alone the hairline, jaw, or general physiognomy for TV.  But, maybe with a little make-up… and just the right camera angle….

And, he’d show up and work for what NBC agreed to pay Chelsea Clinton.

The Presidency of the United States

Though he has never sought, let alone held public office, he has decided to not only self-identify as a presidential candidate but to accept some party’s nomination for the Presidency.  Democrat Party or Republican Party, he could go either way.  His strong suit is that he promises not to hold any rallies, make any speeches, or solicit any campaign contributions.

He foresees the Des Moines Register and the Manchester Union Leader and the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier endorsing him – heralding his declaration that he will not sign any legislative enactment (no bill or resolution) that runs more than 1,500 words.  Those newspapers and other news organizations will rally to his commitment to have the complete text of each act of Congress fully published prior to taking up his presidential pen.  That observance would oblige all members of Congress to actually read what they vote on and preclude them from making misleading representations about the bills.  That observance might actually lighten the case load of the Supreme Court. 

He is trying to find a way to get his positions staked out publically before all the other presidential hopefuls rush to claim them as their own.

Courage 

He likes to think he has the courage of his convictions, even as he knows that real courage is what he sees at a VA hospital and at a rehab facility funded for veterans.  

Though never a great student he knows that those who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 took palpable risks – actually placing their livelihoods and lives in peril. 

He has to summon and sustain a very different kind of fortitude.  For him,

Courage is finding a way to pay – consistently pay, in a timely fashion – his kids’ medical bills and tuitions.

Courage is dealing with rising deductibles, rising co-pays, and rising premiums to provide medical insurance for himself and his kids – even as he has never been eligible for subsidies or credits or any break. 

Courage is dealing with the reality of having to earn a living, by working for a living – and having to look for work when job security has become a thing of the past; and high-currency “reality” TV is so much of the present.

Courage is not letting age, stress, discouragement and disappointment get to him in a way that would get to his kids.

He’s more than ready to self-identify as employable.  He’ll represent himself as the person who he actually is – underemployed but capable, and authentic.