To See the World Things Dangerous to Come To: Explained

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a 2013 movie, features a beautiful and thought-provoking quote: “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.” This quote has resonated with many people and inspired them to live their lives to the fullest. In this blog post, we’ll explore the origin of the quote and delve into its meaning in detail.

The Origin of the Quote:

The quote from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was written by James Thurber, an American writer, humorist, and cartoonist. Thurber was born in 1894 in Ohio and was a prolific writer, contributing to The New Yorker magazine for over thirty years. The quote was first published in Thurber’s short story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” which was originally published in The New Yorker in 1939.

The story is about a man named Walter Mitty, who lives a boring and unremarkable life but has vivid daydreams about being a hero. In the story, Mitty goes on a series of imaginary adventures, including being a surgeon, a fighter pilot, and a captain of a ship. The quote appears at the end of the story, where Mitty is imagining himself facing a firing squad. The quote is a reflection of Mitty’s desire to live a more exciting and fulfilling life.

The Meaning Behind the Quote:

The quote from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has several different meanings, depending on how you interpret it. Here are some of the ways the quote can be understood:

  1. To See the World: The first part of the quote, “To see the world,” speaks to the idea that life is meant to be explored and experienced. It encourages people to travel and seek out new adventures, to expand their horizons and broaden their perspectives.
  2. Things Dangerous to Come to: The second part of the quote, “Things dangerous to come to,” suggests that the most rewarding experiences in life often involve taking risks and facing challenges. It reminds us that sometimes, the things that scare us the most are the things that will ultimately bring us the most joy and satisfaction.
  3. To See Behind Walls: The third part of the quote, “To see behind walls,” speaks to the idea that there is always more to discover and explore in life. It encourages people to be curious and to look beyond the surface level of things, to seek out the hidden truths and mysteries of the world.
  4. Draw Closer: The fourth part of the quote, “Draw closer,” emphasizes the importance of connection and community. It encourages people to form meaningful relationships with others, to share their experiences and their joys and sorrows.
  5. To Find Each Other: The fifth part of the quote, “To find each other,” reinforces the idea of connection and community. It suggests that one of the greatest joys in life is finding other people who share our values, interests, and passions.
  6. And to Feel: The final part of the quote, “And to feel,” speaks to the idea that emotions are a fundamental part of the human experience. It reminds us that life is not just about intellectual pursuits or accomplishments, but also about feeling and experiencing the world around us.

The Importance of Taking Risks:

Taking risks is an essential part of living a fulfilling life. It helps us grow, learn new things, and overcome our fears. Without risk-taking, we may never reach our full potential or experience the thrill of achieving something that once seemed impossible.

Think about some of the greatest innovators and leaders in history, such as Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk. These individuals took risks that others were too afraid to take, and as a result, they changed the world. They believed in their ideas and were willing to take a chance on them, even if it meant failing.

Of course, taking risks doesn’t always lead to success. Sometimes we fail, and that’s okay. Failure can be a valuable learning experience that helps us grow and improve. The important thing is to keep trying, to keep pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones, and to never give up on our dreams.

The Power of Curiosity:

Curiosity is what drives us to explore the world around us, to ask questions, and to seek out new experiences. It’s what fuels our creativity and helps us find meaning and purpose in our lives.

When we’re curious, we’re more open-minded and willing to learn new things. We’re more likely to try new experiences and take risks, which can lead to personal growth and new discoveries.

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in our daily routines and forget about the wonders of the world around us. But by cultivating our curiosity, we can break out of our routines and discover new things that we never knew existed.

The Importance of Connection and Community:

Humans are social creatures, and we thrive on connection and community. Whether it’s with family, friends, or a larger community, having meaningful relationships with others is essential for our well-being and happiness.

When we’re part of a community, we feel a sense of belonging and purpose. We have people to turn to for support and encouragement, and we can share our experiences and learn from others.

In today’s increasingly digital world, it’s easy to feel disconnected from others. But it’s important to remember that social media and online interactions can never replace the value of in-person connection and community. So take the time to cultivate meaningful relationships with others, both online and offline.


The quote from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty reminds us that life is about more than just going through the motions. It’s about exploring the world, taking risks, seeking out new experiences, connecting with others, and feeling the full range of human emotions.

By embracing these principles, we can live a life that is fulfilling, meaningful, and truly worth living. So let’s take the time to appreciate the beauty of the world around us, to push ourselves out of our comfort zones, to form meaningful connections with others, and to feel the full range of human emotions. Because ultimately, that is the purpose of life.

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