It is what you make of it: attitude adjustments in the “happiest place on earth.”

At midnight on Saturday we finally pulled in to our driveway.   642 miles (give or take) prior we had been in the so called happiest place on earth.  The brain child of cartoonist and visionary Walt Disney: DISNEY WORLD! You may have heard of it, quaint little amusement park with a small plot of land with a couple of rides.  It’ s made a few bucks in it’s time.

Seriously, for most people a trip to Disney World is a cause for jubilation.  It is often the punctuation of some monumental occasion like a honeymoon, a graduation, a major birthday.  It is the ultimate cliche in celebrating sports championships. “Cam Newton, you just won the Super Bowl, what are you going to do now?” ” I am going to Disney World!”(Hey it could happen!)  So obviously I must have been pretty hyped up about this trip, right? Not so much.

It wasn’t that the trip wasn’t a celebration of something special.  In fact, what we were celebrating was more special in many ways than the examples I gave.  My older brother is a Veteran of two tours of duty in Iraq.   While on his last deployment he asked us if we would be interested in all going to Disney World once he was back in the states. The trip would include our parents, his family of five and my family of four.  Disney is his families favorite vacation destination and they have even bought into the vacation club there ( If you don’t know what that is, think timeshare only with mouse ears and a nightly fireworks display.)  So once he returned safe and sound, and we were able to save up enough,  we were off to Orlando for a week of rides, characters, and pricey T-Shirts.

So what is the problem, then?  Well, honestly, the problem was me. To start, I really don’t like amusement parks. They are crowded with people who are generally either rude or oblivious to the other patrons at best.  Everything costs twice as much as it would outside the park, especially food. To top it off the main point of going to an amusement park is the rides.  I don’t like rides.  I don’t do upside down, and I have substantial dislike for heights. So unless I really dig waiting in line for 45 minutes to meet a college student dressed up like 5’10” chipmunk, this was obviously not my place.

The trip started as I expected it would.  Waiting at the bottom of the rides with my 2 year old in the Florida heat.  Everyone around me having fun while I pulled toddler duty. Sure, the other adults offered to hang out with him while I took a turn, but why bother.  I wouldn’t have any fun anyway………Then I stopped and thought about it for a moment.   I could stew in my own self centered bitterness, or I could actually try to enjoy myself. I could stand at the exit of every ride while my family was having a great time, or I could challenge myself to ride along side them as often as I could.   I could choose to continue being a grumbling spectator, or I could actively make memories with my children and my wife. So I stopped being selfish and indignant. I got on that roller coaster, the one that  honestly scared the daylights out of me, because I knew my daughter would remember for the rest of her life that time Daddy rode the Himalayan Expedition with her.  I stopped being a malcontent about waiting in line, because I knew that at the end of that line there wasn’t just some sweaty kid trapped inside an anthropomorphic duck costume. There was also the silliest smile I have ever seen on my son’s face as he met “Dah-Duck.” I stopped my endless fretting about the cost, and I just let myself enjoy the fancy restaurant my brother made reservations for my wife and I at. She got the 50 dollar steak, and a couple cocktails.  We splurged for desert.  The chipotle chocolate cake was amazing.

No, I didn’t conquer my fear of heights.  I still don’t really care for roller coasters or rides. The people were sometimes rude, and it was crowded and hot. My feet felt like over ripe berries ready to burst. It has been pointed out to me a dozen times that I have a semi circle sunburn on the front of my noggin from where I wore my hat backwards. I also picked up a nasty cold that is currently waging open warfare on my sinuses.  Above all else, I had a fantastic time and made some awesome memories.

PS we already started saving for a return trip.  I am looking forward to it.

Fear, progress, and hand siphons.

A pair of recurring themes in my life right now are fear and progress. The two are definitely interconnected. More accurately, they are like a valve on a hand siphon. If you have never used one of these, it is basically a couple of tubes (one goes in where there is gas, the other goes where you want that gas to be) connected to a bulb by a valve. By compressing and releasing the bulb you trigger the valve to open and close. When the valve is open it allows the gas to fill the vacuum left by the bulbs decompression. When the valve is closed no new gas can come up the line. Progress is the valve in an open state. Fuel rushing up the line, out of a place where it is no longer needed or where it can’t be used at all. From there it goes into a place where it is ready to be used for new purpose, oftentimes as an answer to a desperate need. However, when that valve is closed it all stops. There is no more flow. You have everything you need in that moment to make things happen, a fuel source, a place for the fuel to go, and the means by which to get the fuel from point a to point b. That is all well and good, but as long as that valve is closed NOTHING is going to change. That is actually the best case appraisal. Most likely things will get worse. What happens if you stand there long enough? The fuel you are trying to siphon up will evaporate. I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to see how this metaphorically represents our own struggles.

Once we know that fear is acting as a valve, stopping the fuel (passion, drive, creativity, happiness) from flowing, how do we disengage that valve? The simple answer is to just take action. Squeeze the metaphorical bulb on the siphon and it will work. Stepping out of the metaphorical it is taking the first step towards whatever goals you have set in front of you. Move, disregarding the risk, take the chance. It is so easy, or at least it is easy to type or say aloud. The truth is that applied action is difficult. Our heart races, our heads spins, our stomach knots up. Our whole body yells out “STOP!”

At the end of the day, whether you use to motivate yourself to move, it is all an exercise in self discipline and control. Even if you are like me and believe in the power that comes from moving on faith in God, it still takes that initial surge of self discipline to put our feet in motion. I pray you have that self discipline, and that you don’t let your lack of self control hem you in, away from where you want to be. I pray that my self control, which has a long way to go, will improve and allow me to make those first steps. To disengage the fear valve, so that my fuel, my creativity, my passion, my drive will flow. I pray that there are people there along the way to cheer you on, to help you feel like you can overcome that fear. I pray that you will go deaf to the voices who would tell you, “you can’t.” I pray your fear valve never stops your dreams from flowing.

Passion

Before I start, I want to thank those of you who read my intro blog, or gave me a “follow.” I hope you will find something worthwhile in my ramblings!

I wanted to make my first proper blog entry about something we can all relate to: passion.

It is a great word, evocative, empowering, and almost always associated with the things that mean the most to us. As exciting as that sounds, it is only a word. Words are easy to use, misuse, and even abuse. I can tell you how passionate I am about digital music, and if you didn’t press me on it, you’d probably walk away thinking this is true. The truth is last month I clicked “like” when a popular Skrillex song popped up on my Internet radio station. That hardly makes me passionate about an entire genre of music.

On the other hand, ask anyone who has known me for more than a minute, and they can tell you where my passions reside. They’ll say it’s my faith and my family, creating music, or making people laugh. It isn’t because I outright said as much, it is because I have demonstrated that passion to them. They can see it on my face, when I break out in a grin talking about a song I’m working on, or they hear it in the lift of my voice when I talk about a weekend spent laughing and playing with my family.

Passion in it’s truest sense surpasses the word we use for it. The vowels and consonants are strung together for convenience; a mutual point of reference. Real passion, reverberates through the person feeling it, and is often contagious. There are people in my life whose passion for Christ stoke the fires of my faith, artists who spur on my creativity, and folks who inspire me through their relationships to be the best Father/Husband/Son/Brother/Friend I can be.

What are you passionate for? How do you use your passions to lift up those around you? Does your passion inspire others? Have you ever been inspired by someone else’s passion? Have you ever benefitted from it?

Whatever your passion is, I hope you are sharing it, I hope you are using it to make someone else’s life a little better. I hope that my passions have, or will someday, do that for you.

DQ

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Is this thing on?

So, somehow you’ve stumbled on this, my first attempt at this thing called blogging. Chances you know me already or you actually meant to go somewhere else and fat fingered in my blog instead. Whatever you brought you here, welcome!

My hope for this blog is to collect my thoughts, share my struggles and successes, and maybe bring someone out there a minute or two of joy or a reason to reflect. I know there have been a number of great blogs that have done as much for me.

I hope you’ll keep checking back here, something cool is bound to happen.

DQ

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