Sean and Walter play soccer with some boys on the mountainside.
We then see Walter getting frisked by a TSA representative in x-ray footage at the airport in Los Angeles. When one of the TSA representatives tries to take one of Walter's belongings, Walter demonstrates that the item is a mouth instrument of some kind, before fighting back against the TSA agents, who mace him.
Walter is questioned by TSA agents, who ask how he got to Afghanistan during the travel ban. "Through Yemen," Walter replies, before asking for his fife back. The agents ask him if he can think of anyone who might be able to vouch for him in Los Angeles.
The scene shifts and we see Walter coming out of questioning to greet Todd, the eHarmony representative with whom he has been speaking on the phone. Todd hugs him and they go to get cinnamon rolls. Todd tells Walter that he got a lot of traffic on his dating profile, but Walter says he never checked because he was hung up on Cheryl.
Todd tells Walter that he pictured him as a "little gray piece of paper," but that in person he is like if "Indiana Jones decided to become the lead singer of The Strokes."
Walter returns to New York, where he has to sell his mother's beloved piano. He apologizes to Edna, but she says it is okay and hugs him. Odessa gets in on the family hug as well and the piano salesman hands Walter a check. When Walter tells Edna he does not have a wallet, she pulls the one Sean gave him out of her purse. "Found it in the trash, I always save your knick-knacks," she says.
With the wallet now in his possession, Walter goes to the magazine office and interrupts a meeting that Ted is leading. He puts the negative on the table and tells Ted that they have two days to print the cover. Before he leaves, Walter asks Ted if he knows Life's motto, and when Ted says he doesn't, Walter tells him that he should be more respectful of the people who built the magazine.
In the elevator, Hernando asks Walter what the picture in the negative was, but Walter tells him he didn't look at it.
At a coffee shop, Walter posts his resume online, listing all the daredevil things he has done in the last few days. Suddenly, he receives an email from Rich, Cheryl's son, thanking him for the longboard. Attached is a clip of him using it and doing a trick. Cheryl waves to the camera at the end of the video.
When Walter goes to pick up his severance pay, he sees Cheryl and follows her outside. "I want you to know, you weren't boring me that day in the park. I was thinking about—I know this is gonna sound weird—I was thinking about you," Walter says. He tells her about the vision of her he had in Greenland that motivated him to get on the helicopter. When he tells Cheryl he thought she got back together with her ex-husband, Cheryl tells him that he just came over to fix her refrigerator and they are not back together.
Seeing an opportunity, Walter asks Cheryl if she wants to go see Odessa in a production of Grease in a "weird church." As they walk towards the train, they walk past a newsstand, where the last issue of Life is being sold. The issue is dedicated "to the people who made it," and the cover is a picture of Walter. They walk away from the newsstand, holding hands.
After all of Walter's efforts to break out of his shell and become more adventurous, the end of the film follows Walter as he learns to become more present and calm in his approach to life. When he finds Sean O'Connell in the middle of the Himalayas, Sean encourages him to enjoy life, and to not try and grasp at things, instead taking them as they come. In a montage, they play soccer with a group of locals as serene music plays. This signifies that Walter is learning to breathe and enjoy his life, even though it seems as though his career and the woman of his dreams are lost to him.
When Walter finds himself detained at the Los Angeles airport, the only person he can think to call in the city is a man he's never actually met: Todd, the customer service representative from eHarmony. Todd is a warm and supportive man in person, and wants to talk to Walter all about his adventures over cinnamon rolls. After his encounter with Sean O'Connell, Walter is ready to embark on real friendship and enjoy the company of a trusted confidant.
Just when it seems like Walter has to accept his new fate and leave behind his old life, his mother comes to the rescue once again, pulling the wallet he thought he lost out of her purse at the piano showroom. With the wallet returned to him, Walter will be able to deliver Sean O'Connell's negative to Life magazine, which could save his career there. The film is filled with happy accidents and coincidences like this throughout, and they often revolve around an unlikely catalyst, the elderly Edna Mitty.
Walter not only learns to break out of his escapist tendency to recede into his own imagination—the "secret life" of the title—but also how to bridge that "secret life" with his external world. When he runs into Cheryl picking up his severance package, he tells her that the day she thought he was spacing out while she was talking to him in the park, he was actually thinking about her. His final act of bravery involves not only doing brave things, but opening up about his interior life and speaking truthfully to the woman he loves. The bravery that Walter learns is as much emotional and internal as it is external and physical.
Unexpectedly, Sean O'Connell's final cover image is not a picture of a snow leopard or a beautiful vista, but an incognito picture of Walter. The issue is dedicated to the people who made Life magazine, the employees, and Walter is the face of that dedication. After feeling pushed to the margins and being generally unsung in his safe existence at the magazine, and the resulting downsizing, Walter's effort is celebrated in style.