Friday, April 19, 2013

Disney Whirled: Hightlights of a Nine-Day Adventure into Magicalness, PART 9: "Appendix, Volume 2"

So, what has the Hungry Preacher himself been reflecting on vis-a-vis his family's Disney World experience?  After going back and forth on what to write about and how to write it, I settled on what I think was the clearest choice all along: I staged an interview between Rob, the ordinary family man; and his alter ego, the Hungry Preacher, blogger extraordinaire.  I decided to have the Hungry Preacher ask the questions, and he decided that distinguishing his words from Rob's would be best accomplished by the use of italics.

So, it’s been several months since you got back from Disney.  What is the most striking memory of the experience?

Certainly the memories shared with my family.  The things we saw and did, and watching the girls take in the experience.  These are the things that I most fondly remember.  These are the reasons people take vacations in the first place.

Anything else?

I’m still struck by the park itself.  When I think about “Disney World,” I really remember it being a “world.”  It’s still weird to think of it as being contained in a state.  I see it as a planet, unencumbered by organizational paradigms of Earth.  It would only surprise me a little if we eventually discover that the entire complex was developed by aliens who are using it as a way to spy on people from all parts of the world.  It would be a good idea, actually—let the peoples of Earth come to you, instead of the other way around.  The flaw in their plan may be that they actually “do amusement parks” way better than Earthlings.  It’s raising suspicions.

That would be ironic if that was their undoing.  Have you shared your ideas with other Earthlings?

Not in so many words.  But I have interacted with people who have done the Disney World thing and seem to “get it” when I talk about how impressive it is.

Is it something you have to have experienced to really get?

Something like that.  I’ve heard that Corvette owners have some sort of signal or look that they give each other when they pass on the street, something that communicates, “I know that you 'get this', and you know that I 'get this', and we both know that other people don’t.  So let’s share a moment of superficial bonding.”  Surfing might be like that, too.

Are you saying that based on the movie "Point Break"?

Yes.  It's the only movie I know that features both Keanu Reeves and Gary Busey.  That must count for something.
Fair point.

Anyway, I've been surprised to feel this "bond" with fellow veterans of the Disney World experience.

Is there any meaningful significance whatsoever to this bond?

Objectively, I don’t feel like there should be.  I mean, it’s an amusement park, right?  But subjectively, the connection seems real, whatever that means.  I feel shallow ascribing very much significance to that it, though.

There, there.  You’re among friends.  There’s no judgment here.


So is there?

Is there what?

Meaningful significance to the “Disney Bond”?

Let’s say “yes”.  At least insofar as people’s desire to bond about something like an amusement park—even an awesome amusement park—demonstrates a deep rooted longing to make connections of any kind.

It sounds like the "Disney Bond" is subjectively significant to you, but that you’re trying to place your own appreciation of the bond on a higher cerebral plain by pointing out that the bond is compelling to you primarily as a sociological and anthropological illustration.  It’s like you’re saying you’re wrapped up in it, but your “wrapped up-ness” is intellectually defensible.

I might be saying that.  It sounds pretty arrogant when you put it like that, though.

Isn’t it OK just to be wowed by something, even if that “something” is a corporation unapologetically trying to wow you so you give them more money?

I guess so.  Can I at least keep thinking of it as “the place where the talking mouse lives” instead of as “a corporation”?

If that helps maintain your self-image as a thoughtful person.

Talk about irony!  (LAUGHS)

Since I mentioned the goal of the corp- uh, “talking mouse” being to draw more money out of you, let me ask you this: Do you think you’ll ever go back?

Hard to say.  There was talk among Beth’s family of taking a trip all together, but that has been postponed for now.  At this exact moment, the girls are still in the window of appreciating things like Princesses and kid-focused rides.  But it seems to me that the next age range—let’s say 10 to 13—might be that range of being too old to really get into the kid stuff, but not quite old enough to appreciate the experience from an adult perspective.  Now, realize that what I just said may be an example of me completely talking out of my butt.  But it seems to make sense, right?


So what I’m saying is that if we don’t go back this year, we might be looking at a few years down the line.

When you say “adult perspective,” is that a nice way of saying, “Epcot”?


Let’s shift gears.  Did you have any personal “take aways” from the trip?  I mean, other than good memories, did you learn anything?

I learned that my kids may be more ready to travel than I realized.  They did really well in the car ride.

Any other trips lined up?

Nothing planned yet, but most of the country seems like fair game.  Driving to the west coast might be a little much, but anywhere else could work.

Any other lessons?

Something good for me was that the trip went pretty smoothly.  In the past, it’s kind of been “my thing” that every time we take a trip somewhere, I forget something important—either literally forgetting to bring an item of some sort, or I forget how long it will take me to load up the car, or I forget to put a hold on the mail.  This trip was very smooth.  Of course, there were isolated moments of chaos here or there, but nothing directly tied to poor planning on my part.

Do you think you're the only one who forgets things on trips?

Probably not.  It's hard for me to gauge how common it is, though.  For some people, it might be a once-every-five-trips thing.  Maybe other people forget lots of things every trip.  I reckon that I'm in the top 80% of the population when it comes to "effective trip planning."  See how I phrased that in a positive way?

Yes.  Very smooth.

Regardless of how widespread the tendency is, I find it annoying and I get frustrated with myself. 

So this trip broke a trend for you?

Yes, but I’m not sure that’s a good thing.  I mean, I know that it is NOT a good idea to attach your self-image to how well you plan a trip.  But sometimes it’s hard to ignore the voices.  Like, when we’re visiting Beth’s parents and I have to make an emergency run to buy some toothbrushes for the kids because I left theirs in St. Louis—I start to generalize pretty quickly.

Generalize what?

Bad thoughts about myself.  Some may be accurate, mind you.  Like, I may not be as generally dependable as I like to think I am.  If that is the case, I need to realize it and work on it.  Grow and mature--that sort of thing.  But when I unfairly generalize bad thoughts, or when I let “areas of potential growth” become my defining characteristics, that’s a problem.

So the smoothness of the Disney trip made it so that you didn’t have to be tempted with bad thoughts about yourself?

Yes, but I realize that may be attacking the symptom.  Avoiding the trigger of unproductive negativity is a quick fix.  Conversely, the satisfaction I get from planning a smooth trip only feels substantial.  It fades.

Because it only lasts until the next time you forget toothbrushes?

Exactly.  Or the next time I forget to back up pictures on the computer.

Sounds like there’s a story behind that.

After we got home from Disney, when I was still glowing over the smoothness of the trip and generally feeling pretty good about myself, our hard drive crashed.  The short story is that we almost lost about 5 years worth of pictures that were only stored on the computer--because I didn’t back them up.  I went from a high high to a low low in about 10 minutes.

Did you recover the pictures?

Yes, but that’s kind of an aside.  The contrast in my mood made it apparent to me how fleeting my hope and joy were when they were attached to “what I have done lately.”  It’s like I’m a ship being cast around stormy seas.

The New Testament, right?  The book of James?

Yes.  98% sure of that.  I don’t like saying 99% because it’s a clich√© and it makes it sound like I haven’t really thought about it.  But I really am at least 98% about that.  Besides, aren’t you the Hungry Preacher?  Shouldn’t you know this?

I’m also 98% sure.  Any other lasting lessons related to Disney?

Can they be cheesy?

We are talking about where the talking mouse lives, right?

Well put, my friend.  Well put.  OK, if cheesy is allowed, then let me say that a week at Disney World can be a microcosm for life itself.  Or at least what life can be.  There is all sorts of symbolism at Disney, all sorts of talk about “believing in your dreams” and “making things magical.”  Maybe “experiencing Disney World” is a litmus test; if you walk away thinking about how commercial everything is or how expensive or whatever, maybe there’s part of you that’s not really willing to dream, and not willing to make your dream happen.  But if you appreciate the “magic” on any level, maybe your appreciation can propel you to create magic of your own in your “real life.”  Maybe the magic doesn’t so much originate from Disney World.  Maybe Disney World draws out the magic in your heart.

So you’re saying that maybe, for some people, Disney World is like a magic feather.

Ooo, that’s good.  Exactly.  Disney World can’t make you fly, but it can make you recognize that the ability to fly is in you, even after you get back home.  Metaphorically, of course.

What is “flying” a metaphor for?

Living.  Loving.  Creating.  Doing beautiful things.  Believing in something life-giving and bigger than yourself.  That is flying.

That’s scary for some people.

I know.


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