My favorite ride at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. While our 13-year old will argue the attraction isn’t a ‘ride’, I disagree. Sure, grandma’s 6-volt Rascal is quicker off the start, and a FastPass is unheard of, but that’s what makes this ride unique in an arena of ever increasing thrills-per-square-inch attractions. Opened in 1975, the PeopleMover is a leisurely 10-minute ride on an elevated track, overlooking the attractions of Tomorrowland. While not in the same adrenaline-rush category as the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Splash Mountain, heck, not even Peter Pan’s Flight, PeopleMover remains a pleasant reminder of days gone by, a time when the pace was slower and tattoos were restricted to Marines and the occasional exotic dancer.
Amidst a fast paced, over-crowded Theme Park, fraught with 100 minute wait times, screaming kids and sweaty parents, PeopleMover is an oasis of calm. A chance to sit, to relax, if not for a moment, and gaze upon the wonders of park life in all its maniacal glory. A moving snapshot in time.
And yet many miss the opportunity entirely.
Those who do pause to take a ride often miss the benefit, faces buried in their smartphones, confirming reservations, switching FastPasses, or uploading selfies to Facebook.
I realize Disney vacations are often a once in a lifetime adventure for many, the single day ticket price alone is enough to up the stress level for most, so it’s understandable visitors try to cram as much entertainment into the day as possible. One hundred dollars a day per person has the tendency to motivate. But it’s important to pause occasionally, to step back and reevaluate, albeit for 10 minutes. The ability to slow down, observe, listen to the sounds, smell the excitement and truly experience the moment, is lost on many.
It’s a lot like life.
With our eyes fixated on our digital addictions, we plan the future, and entirely miss the present. Not unlike photos we’ve all seen, capturing a swarm of fans desperately trying to film a moment, instead of experiencing it. Who knows, maybe they’ll even look at the images one day. Odds are they won’t, that tidbit supplanted by fifty more images before the day is through. We tell ourselves we’ll look at them all one day, when we have time, when we retire, when the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup. Or we’ll post to Twitter, Facebook, for the enjoyment of millions, all of whom will never see it.
But guess what?
The time was right – when it occurred.
In our lifetimes we will acquire hundreds of hours of video and thousands of photographs, all capturing the moment, but not necessarily the experience. Preserving memories is an inherent, and at times overpowering fixation, warranted and worthwhile to a degree, but often, overdone.
In the words of Ferris Bueller;
If you don’t put it down once in a while, you will miss it.
We all fall into the trap. Like neurotic personal assistants, planning each fifteen minute block of our lives, we miss life slipping by. Time ticks on, until one day, it’s up. And chances are, those we leave behind will not be queueing up for the rights to own our 27,000 photographs and 1,200 videos.
From an old stack of VHS tapes to a pile of Sony mini-cassettes, to a shoebox full of Panasonic micro-cassettes, and finally a terabyte of digital data, I have enough images and home movies for two lifetimes. I wouldn’t trade them for the world, but the truth is, I will never get around to appreciating them. Not all of them anyways.
I lived those moments, but I realize now, I missed them also – ballet recitals, school plays, meeting Mickey Mouse. So careful was I to preserve the moments for future me, I short-changed some of the original wonder from days-gone-by me. A trade-off, and one with no guarantees. Like a game of chance, folding on a pair of Aces today, in hopes of a Full House in the future.
I have learned. While I’m still quick to grab my Nikon, or in a pinch, my IPhone, it’s for a brief capture or photograph, then I put it away and live the moment. Watching birthday candles extinguish, gifts opened on Christmas morning, high school graduation -all the better seen through the eyes, not the screen.
I still have a ways to go, but I think I’m heading in the right direction.
You can keep your roller coasters.
I’m happy with the PeopleMover.
Until next time,