I converted from a Disney critic to a Disney devotee while Shaya and I were walking through Downtown Disney in December. My little boy and I, hand in hand, just two amongst crowds of many, on a 75-degree day, the sky clear above, the music trinkling from unseen speakers.
When Dan and I took our four kids to Disney World three years ago this month, we did so out of parental obligation. You know the feeling: you save and save to give your children that most magical of vacations. They don’t call it the Magic Kingdom for nothing.
But the minute we landed and Shaya’s first tooth fell out, a whole series of calamities started to unfold. An hour after breakfast with friends, we were in an Orlando urgent care awaiting the diagnosis of ear infection.
Of the six of us, four ended up sick that week – tonsillitis, upper respiratory, fever, general malaise. The parks were not fun; they were drudgery as people nursed aches and fevers, and our kids professed to preferring the pool over the parks.
I chalked it up to the busy excess of amusement parks and vowed never to return. And then I ignored my earlier vow and took my little guy, just the two of us, for a jaunt at Magic Kingdom.
But it was more than that. I started to fall into the wonder of Disney World.
As if a switch flipped, I was enveloped in a blanket of brilliance, in awe of the vision that Walt Disney had so many years ago, to create a whole world out of dormant swampland, a place people from around the globe would come and stare up, wide-eyed, with awe.
Just as Shaya and I did six weeks ago.
As the Magical Christmas Parade proceeded down Main Street USA, my little guy waved eagerly to Anna and Elsa, knowing on some level that it wasn’t really them, that they’re not real people, but wanting to believe.
And that’s where the magic comes in.
Somewhere deep inside of all of us, we want desperately to believe in something, anything, that will turn this world from unfair and boring into magical and enterprising.
Perhaps the older we get, the more we need it. That sense of awesomeness. That jaw-dropping wonder at the beautiful world.
Disney himself captured it incarnate – in characters, in landscapes, in storytelling, in engagement with possibility.
By flying with Dumbo, we believe we can take flight ourselves, our ears lifting us above the clouds, for a clear pure vision of goodness.
It was one of the best trips of my life – in part because I had the good fortune to be alone with one of my wonderful children, to listen to them fully, to connect heart to heart.
But it was even deeper than that. The two of us let ourselves be swept up into amazement and wonder, and I loved living there.
No matter what your line of work is, if you can give people a sense of the possible, and build in them a belief in wonder and beauty, you’ve done more than contribute to the economy. You’ve created the brilliance that is this world, and you will have won a customer for life.
For everything we give out that keeps on giving is a true gift. It’s our job, in every profession, to make the world a little better with each passing day. Find a way to truly do that, to get inside a heart and live there with wonder and delight, and you’ll have achieved ultimate success.