I’ve learned to take my pleasures where I can; in my case, as those who know me know, that often involves Victorian novels in bed. I do not expect to find pleasure or its more evolved offspring, fulfillment, where pleasure is usually found: drunken nights, fancy food at expensive restaurants, and exotic sex are all, I think, overrated.
Up until this weekend I would also have put Disneyland squarely into the overrated category, except that Disneyland, unexpectedly, was for me a spiritual venture.
At Disneyland I felt almost zero anxiety and came away from my time there with the feelings of love and connection I consider the holy grail of human experience. As for anxiety, the absence of it really is one of life’s underrated pleasures. For those who deal with anxiety, I know you know what I’m talking about it. When it lifts, you feel so light you’re almost high.
I visited Disneyland with my son for our annual mother-son weekend. He selected the venue (Had it been up to me, we might have ended up in Scottsdale, AZ, at an all-inclusive resort binge watching whatever . . .).
I didn’t overthink the trip beforehand because I was very busy working. We arrived, and I just let the Disneyland thing take over. If you stay at the resort, you get a “magic hour” each day before the park opens to the rest of the hoi poloi (lol, that’d be us!).
I would have thought Disneyland would be anxiety-provoking, but it’s not — at least once you surrender to the heat, the lines, and the expense. Which I did. Disneyland, at it’s core, is a pretty simple and well-organized place. There’s not much to do except have fun.
We arrived late Friday evening and took some time to schedule out which rides were our priorities for the following day (including Space Mountain, It’s a Small World, The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, and Pirates of the Caribbean) and, because of that lovely magic hour, rode all six plus a couple of bonus rides (Toad’s Wild Ride*) before 10:30 am. Huzzah! Maybe that set the tone, but basically, except for a couple of times when I became hangry (different from anxiety, there’s an easy fix), we just kept having fun.
We walked 20 miles in 21 hours of park time over the span of the less than 36 hours. Impressive, no? And I have the giant blister to prove it!
You may still be wondering how this could have created a spiritual experience for me. Well, it happened like this: On day two, we used our magic hour to ride California Screamin’ about seven times in a row – no lines!
Time three, we both decided to close our eyes. During the initial acceleration, my son reached for my hand and held it all the way through. We sped through time and space downside and up, hair streaming behind us, and that still fairly little hand held mine firmly yet gently and I could feel all the purest love I’ve ever wanted in the span of those three to five minutes. There was no past, there was no future. There was just love and connection. There was just life the way I believe it’s meant to be and not always is.
So I do hope that when the visa bill comes I will remember what’s really important and why I do what I do. Life can be very sweet.
*When I was a very little girl, I went with my cousins to Disneyland. Not wanting to miss out on my first trip to Disneyland, my parents hopped on an airplane and met me at the park. I remembered how surprised I was when they appeared out of nowhere; that was its own magic.
And speaking of sweet, I remembered Victor, my step-dad’s, joy when we rode Toad’s Wild Ride and how the ride felt so much more bouncy and intense when I was small, tucked between Victor and my mom. At that time, I didn’t know what Wind in the Willows was, or that it would become my favorite children’s book — a shared pleasure between Victor and me.
Disneyland is a sneaky place. It creates memories and tucks them into unexpected places in your heart and mind where they will wait for you to discover them at different times and in different ways. Again: Life can be very sweet.