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  • Darci Daniels

Why Life is Like Disneyland

(or not at all, you decide)

I think the sun in contractually obligated to come out at least once during your trip. Apparently so everyone can squint for the family picure. Except the little dude, who was so cool with his sunglasses.

Warning: I’m feeling very sassy. I think I’m channeling a very sarcastic and witty friend whose birthday is today. (Shout out to Jessica! Hey, all my voices tell your voices to smile, you're not 40 yet.) Now that I’ve warned you, I’ll tell you where this idea came from. Other than writer’s block. I took a vacation to Disneyland in February, and I had not been there since 2008, when my daughter was turning 5. Now my nephew was 5, and my whole family was going. I’ve been to Disneyland 4 times, this was #5, and I’ve been to Disney World once. I know this is nothing to super Disney fans and people who live in SoCal and Florida, but for a Washington girl, it’s a decent amount. I’d officially been there more times than anyone else in my family, so they looked to me for advice. That was some pressure I was not expecting, and since the last time I’d went it was a billion degrees and I tried to erase most of it from my memory lest I have heat stroke from just thinking about it, so I wasn’t necessarily the best tour guide. (In case you’re wondering, no, not a billion degrees – hyperbole! – but they did set record highs while we were there, downtown LA got to 121 and Anaheim was 108, so yeah, it was sucky.) This time the weather was opposite – 50s and rain, with occasional sunshine. My Washington people were feeling welcome. I started thinking about how we complain about things at Disneyland (it’s too hot! It’s raining! Everything is so expensive!) but we CHOSE this vacation. We knew, we’d been there, we understood the rules. So… did we choose this life? I don’t know, and it’s too heavy to discuss in this post, but I think we do. We then learn the rules of life... sorta. We are really good at forgetting how to deal with life, even if we once knew. I am forever reminding myself how to deal with my thoughts, the weather, stress, my family, my business. I will remind my clients of things and they’ll say, “oh yeah, we talked about that!” It’s good to be reminded of how things work every once in a while. So, the following is my attempt at doing that with some humor and Disneyland metaphors. Please keep your arms and legs in the car at all times during the ride, and have fun!

· There are lines. Like, a lot of them. I don’t know how many times I’ve stood in line in my life, and with all the technology it gets less and less, but there’s no way to avoid them completely in modern society. Disneyland just gives you a chance to practice your patience (and hit the high score on Tetris on your phone). However, there are shortcuts to the lines. Go earlier in the morning, get the fastpasses, wait until it’s afternoon nap time to go on the big rides. In life, go to the Post Office in off hours. Don’t try to leave the city in traffic on Friday of a holiday weekend – go earlier, or later. Use the self-checkout instead of waiting for a checker. Use technology to give you short cuts. Hell, even the DMV lets us renew our licenses online these days! We wait for things to happen in our lives too. Things we want, and can’t wait to happen. And like the guy who goes to Disneyland, knowing there will be lines and waiting, and then complains about that exact thing, there’s no reason for you to complain about waiting for the thing you want to happen. Do other things while you’re waiting. Find joy in the moment. And if you’re going to go when you know there will be a line, like Disneyland at Spring Break, prepare yourself. Complaining doesn’t help, but it might piss off everyone around you. Don’t be that guy.

· Nothing bad ever happens. No, wait, that’s fantasyland. This doesn’t even apply at Disneyland, because people get owies, cranky, rained on, too hot (those poor people in the character costumes on a hot day, I can’t even), kids drop their ice cream, your favorite ride is broken down. But yet… there’s always hope. Someone cleans up the ice cream, and the kid gets another. The rain stops, and I know the Disney employees are well taken care of with regular breaks, especially the people in the costumes. Rides are fixed just in the nick of time (on our last trip, Pirates of the Caribbean, my daughter’s 3rd favorite ride, was closed the whole time – until the last 2 hours we were there. Ta-da! Dreams do come true, and because it had just opened, the line wasn’t even that long). The point is, you can’t expect, even at Disneyland, for things to go perfectly all the time. You roll with it, you assume it will get better, and you move on to the next thing. We can choose to do the same thing in life. You get to choose how you feel, instead of letting outside circumstances dictate how you feel. I’ll say that again – YOU GET TO CHOOSE HOW YOU FEEL, INSTEAD OF LETTING OUTSTIDE CIRCUMSTANCES DICTATE HOW YOU FEEL. It’s true. Not that it’s easy, but it’s worth it. Try it – next time your favorite ride breaks down, or traffic is a mess and you’re going to be late for a meeting – roll with it. Assume it will get better. And move on to the next thing you can do. Because you’re not in charge of traffic, or fixing the ride.

· Everything is expensive. Yeah, this pretty much rings true. Both at the theme park, and in every day life. However, this can be looked at another way – you don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to. There are people who live off the grid, use solar power, collect rainwater, grow their own food, and only spend what they want. Don’t like that option? Don’t want to carry around lunch and dinner for 4 in your bag at Disneyland all day? Well, then, you’re gonna pay the high food prices. Don’t like the idea of living off the grid? Well, then, you’re going to pay the utility/rent/grocery/gas bill. Don’t like the price of out of season avocados? Only buy them in season. Hate the extra surcharge on gas for using a credit card? Use cash. There are choices and options. Even if you don’t like them, you have them. Again, roll with it.

· It’s too crowded. AKA -- traffic sucks, it’s too peopley out here, I can’t deal with people right now. Yeah, I know. You go to Disneyland expecting it to be crowded, and you’re only going to be there for a few days, not live in it. But still, SO MANY people. And yes, it depends where you live. That’s kind of my point – the world can feel very crowded, or very expansive. I like the city life, but I like to live outside of the city and visit. I like to be city adjacent. This is the choice I have made. The world can feel very crowded, unless you’re somewhere like the middle of Montana. Speaking of, here’s a mind-blower: Montana isn’t nearly as peopley as New York City (this is actually true – the population of the entire state of Montana is less than just Manhattan). So you have the same number of people in 147,164 square miles, or 34 square miles. You decide where you want to live.

· Disneyland has cool stuff you can’t find anywhere else. Well, “cool” being a relative term, if you like Disney. It’s funny how a super fancy set of Minnie Mouse ears seem so “on trend” in Disneyland, but then you get home and… what are you going to do with them? Honestly, who hasn’t had that same experience at a shopping mall? The salesperson convinces you that you MUST buy a certain hat because it looks fantastic on you, only to get it home and wonder what the hell you were thinking. On a bigger level, this world has some pretty cool stuff we can’t find anywhere else. Water, for example. Levels of oxygen humans need to survive. A hospitable environment for life as we know it. So cool! Well, lets stop killing it then! Hold companies who are runing the enviornment accountable, use less plastic, drive a hybrid. Or Disneyland will regularly be 108 degrees, and trust me, NO ONE wants that. *Steps off soapbox*

· Roller Coasters. I mean, do I even need to explain this one? Life has ups and downs. Sometimes you’re having your breath taken away (and if you don’t like the ride, that may be a bad thing), and sometimes it can be exhilarating. Every once a while there’s a lull and you get to relax and enjoy yourself. But mostly, you spend your time waiting in line, hanging out and talking with the people you’re with, and looking at your phone. Sounds pretty familiar, yeah? Most of life is the moments lived in between the highs and lows. Life isn’t in the past, it’s not in the future, it’s in the moment. Be present, breathe, and find the joy.

· Finally, there’s something for everyone. No matter how old, young, kooky, conservative, funny, serious, crabby you are… there’s always something to make you smile or to delight you at Disneyland. Variety is the spice of life, as they say. No matter what you’re interested in, what your heart pulls you toward, you’re almost guaranteed to find other people who feel the same way, if you look hard enough. Love the outdoors? There’s camping in the Pacific Northwest. Rather be caught dead than sleeping in the wilderness on the ground? There are 5 star hotels in Italy. No real budget, cheap furniture and home décor up your alley? The IKEA warehouse is heaven. Louis IV antiques more your style? Paris (uber expensive) antique shops are for you. From the Grammys to a pre-school concert, from never leaving your house to traveling all around the world without a home base, from reality TV to opera, you can find a community of people who share your interests. We’re all different but we are more alike than we sometimes think. It’s a big, vast universe, but also -- It’s a Small World.

With that earworm, I leave you to contemplate if there were some ideas here that you may be able to take and make your own. For me, I’m really going to try and roll with it more often, and I always need the reminder to breathe and be present. And although my last two trips to Disneyland were a bit more challenging than I expected, I still look forward to going again someday!

Goodbye, until we see you next time!


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