February 11, 2009

The child’s approach to life

Shari Bescos was Disneyland Ambassador when I toddled onto Main Street for the first time.

As I got a little older, an “E” coupon became just about the most valuable currency in the world.

Disneyland was the uncomplicated, practically primitive by today’s standards, Happiest Place on Earth.

The Magic Kingdom was a comforting presence over the years. Things changed, of course. Big Thunder Mountain rose in Frontierland, and the old Fantasyland transformed. Other alterations happened here and there. But the more things changed, the more Disneyland stayed the same.

When I was about sixteen, I realized why.

Night was just falling, and I think my family was trying to figure out where to meet up again before the Park closed. I remember the temperature being a little bit cold, and I was standing off by myself near Town Square, looking towards the Hub.

I wasn’t paying much attention to family plans because I was absorbed in the lights. They were all on. Thousands of bulbs, each one lit up. I don’t remember seeing a single burned-out socket.

It was an electric embodiment of quality.

“That’s how things should be done,” I thought. Main Street that night became for me a visual expression of the unprecedented degree of excellence that Disneyland knew was required to truly accomplish its purpose of creating happiness. I was only a little older than a child then, but I knew that the approach represented by those lights was one I wanted to emulate. And I knew that I had to become part of the company that was Walt Disney Productions, the “wonderful organization” that Walt built, and of which he was most proud.

I think that Walt was right about the right way to approach life, work, relationships, all of it:

Why do we have to grow up?

I know more adults who have the child's approach to life.

They're people who don't give a hang what the Joneses do. You see them at Disneyland every time you go there.

They are not afraid to be delighted with simple pleasures, and they have a degree of contentment with what life has brought - sometimes it isn't much, either.

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