WHAT I LEARNED AT DISNEY
1. Happiness is contagious.
When I walked in the park and everyone was waving giant Mickey Mouse hands and blowing bubbles and grinning for photos, it made me skip and smile and wave and say “please” and “thank you” and want to stay in that happy spot forever. I overheard a little girl say, “Mommy, the thing about Disney is, everyone is smiling and that makes everyone else want to smile.”
As I walk through life, I will strive to carry some of those Disney smiles over into every day – to pass on some waves and skips and watch the wave of happiness flow.
2. A little bit of magic goes a long long way.
Rushing past Cinderella’s castle on the way to a certain ride I saw an extravaganza. Mickey and Minnie laughed. Princesses waltzed. Captain Hook swooshed his sword, all with music and fireworks. It felt like a surprise party being thrown for me. No matter how many times I looked at park hours, reviewed rides and attractions, no show could have delighted me more than this. Later I bumped into Peter Pan, literally. There he was sitting crisscross applesauce on the ground, playing with a leaf. He asked my son if he knew how to crow. They stood up together and “caw caw cawed” at the top of their lungs. Despite all of my scheduling and planning and reserving and double-checking for our trip, I could never have arranged a better meeting of my five-year old's hero.
How can I surprise someone today? Something little? Something big? An email, a note, a treat? I’m thinking already, but can’t tell. It would ruin the surprise, but I can’t wait to delight someone when they least expect it.
3. Even when we’re doing exactly what we want with our lives, we need to take breaks.
Do you love your school? Your job? Your boyfriend? Your best friend? Your family? If you are blessed enough to say “yes” to even one of these questions, you still need to take breaks from that thing, to appreciate that job/school/relationship/etc..
Eighty-degree sunshine tickling my shoulders on a January afternoon, music in the air, rides swirling around me, I could think of nowhere I’d rather be. But after walking from Frontierland to Tomorrowland to Fantasyland and back to Tomorrowland in time to use my FastPass, and after winding my way through stanchions, shooting lasers at aliens and spinning in tea cups, I realized it was 2:00 p.m. and we hadn't eaten since 7:30 a.m. (because we wanted to be at the park when it opened). WE NEEDED A REST -- to sit and sip something cold and snack on something salty and reenergize and take deep breaths. It’s the same with life. I need to inhale and exhale and savor where I’ve been and what I’ve accomplished. I need to spread out my map and figure out where I'm going next.
4. Even when something is fantastic, there is always room for improvement.
As a child I went to Disney. It was an incredible vacation I remember the details vividly. The monorail seemed like the coolest possible mode of transportation. I actually got to work the controls on the Dumbo ride. The Haunted Mansion made me almost pee my pants. Pinocchio hugged me during the parade. Today the monorail, Dumbo ride, Haunted Mansion and Pinocchio are all still there, but Disney didn’t decide to stop at magically memorable. Now you can meet Rapunzel from Tangled. Now a Jack Sparrow so realistic, it's eerie, peeks out of a barrel on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride . There are fast passes to move lines faster and Epcot and Animal Kingdom and and... Disney didn’t stop at good or great or even spectacular. They continue changing, improving and growing. I need to keep going to – to never settle for good enough.
5. Savor the moment.
I started planning our trip to Orlando in September. I spent hours on Expedia. I ordered tickets and booked hotels and reserved plane tickets. I counted down to the right month, week, day, hour till take off. And then, like the bang of fireworks at the closing ceremonies each night at the park, the trip flashed brilliantly, and was over. I vowed not to let it get away from me. I walked leisurely through the park, stopping and enjoying the miracles around each corner, read the giant pages of the Pooh bear book on the honey pot ride, bought ice cream bars shaped like mouse ears and let the cool vanilla ice cream drip onto my tongue. The trip is over, but not the memories. Just as I still remember the details of my visit to the Magic Kingdom as a kid, my kids will remember theirs.
What am I doing today that I can savor? A snuggle with one of my children, a rich, hot coffee in the morning, a sunset pink and orange clashing with the gray winter sky. What will you savor today?
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Laura L. Smith