"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
---Walter Elias Disney

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Escaping at Disney and Bringing the Magic Home

I don't know why, but I read the first post on this blog just now. It's from January 6, almost eight months ago and it talks about why I write this. Here's the last paragraph, the important part, I think.

 We are planning a trip to Walt Disney World this fall and I wanted to record my rather obsessive planning for my own sake as much as thinking anyone else would be interested. But I got to thinking about the reason we love our trips to "The Dis" as much as we do. Our good friends are going  in less than a month and I know they are hoping for the total escape that only the magic of Disney can offer. Disney, for those of us who love it, can truly make all the stress and bad and worries of the real world go totally away. It's a haven, a sanctuary, one of the last truly magical places left. I was thinking how great it would be to carry at least a bit of that feeling with us even when we were stuck here in the real world. So that, too, is what I plan to write about, living a happy and magic-filled life no matter where we are and what is happening around us.

I don't know what possessed me to read this, but I am very glad I did. I needed it. That trip we were planning is over, and I've switched from sharing plans to sharing memories. I didn't know when I wrote that paragraph how true it would become. I didn't know how much I'd need that trip when it came time and how much it would help change my attitude around. I called Disney World "a haven, a sanctuary, one of the last truly magical places left" and I used it as such. I immersed myself this trip. I locked the car keys in the room safe. I swore off news. I put work and all the other stressors of my life away for a week. I left voicemails sit on my phone unlistened to. I deleted emails like mad. I asked for our room TV to be tuned, if it was on at all, exclusively to the annoying brunette telling you all about what to do at the parks. I limited Facebook to Disney pages and bragging about the fun time we were having. I escaped.

I knew I needed it. My only reservation was that putting all that stuff aside would leave me facing an avalanche of crap upon ":re-entry." You know what? Didn't happen. All the bad things that had me down before our trip were still there when I got home, but they looked smaller and less important. The good things about home, the family and friends and the wonderful island I am lucky enough to call home looked bigger and more important. I had a total attitude adjustment and it carried over through that dreaded re-entry. I'm home and working (well, not a whole lot as you can tell, seeing as I'm writing on my blog at lunchtime), the keys are out of the safe and in my pocket, I'm up on all the news, I'm reading emails again, I'm facing all the bad things that can't touch a person in the Magic Kingdom. But I'm just as happy today as I was two weeks ago when I was riding Pirates of the Caribbean on Talk Like A Pirate Day. I took the magic home.

I spent a lot of time on this trip looking for the small details built into every facet of Walt Disney World. I thought about what it took to not only execute such detail, but to have the sort of mind set that allowed you to come up with the ideas in the first place. I looked at the park through the lens of the things I've learned about Walt Disney himself. I thought about how he wouldn't ever hear "no" or "you can't." Walt saw his dreams and made them real, for himself and generations to come after he was gone. He knew it was fantasy, he knew the world wasn't perfect and that sometimes bad things happened to good people, but he didn't let that consume him. Mickey Mouse himself was created after Walt Disney was swindled out of his very successful bread and butter cartoon character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Walt was betrayed by people he trusted and cheated and basically had his dreams crushed and stolen, but he responded by creating Mickey Mouse, on a train ride home to LA from the meeting in New York where all this happened. I realized last week that while I'm not Walt Disney, I don't have all he had in the way of intelligence and drive and talent, I can still be as much like him as possible. I don't have to accept the negative or the bad. I can see that watching evil and hate and dishonesty triumph sometimes doesn't mean they always will and it doesn't mean I have to put up with it. I can hold onto that hope, that optimism that Walt always had in his heart, and eventually it will win out. Just as Walt didn't design and build all the things that made his movies and his theme parks unique, I don't have to be the one to fix the problems I see. But by being like Walt, by carrying that optimism and that magic around with me and sharing it with those I care about I can help them find the way to break through their problems and stresses.

The friends I mentioned in that post did need the Disney Magic back in February, and they got it. What I didn't know was how much they'd need it again. And again, Disney is there. As I write this, those friends are on an airplane headed to Anaheim and Disneyland. Tomorrow they will walk through the gates of the Magic Kingdom that Walt built himself. The magic will be there, they will see new things and experience old ones in a new place. They are praying this works, that the escape can provide a break from some dark times and give them new strength to face troubles. I know it will. And I know that when they come home, I will do all I can to make sure they don't leave the magic behind. It's what Walt would do.

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