Addictive Distractions, or How I Re-Learned My Mantra at Disneyland

7718_175751211042_659641042_4310226_1519358_nSo a week ago, I relived my childhood. Remembering what it was like to glow in fascination, and wonder at the ordinary.

Through a series of fortunate events, a new friend was able to sign me and a friend, @Brandt, into Disneyland for a free day of fun. (I can’t publicly say what role my new friend played in the park, but I will say she has an incredibly convincing British accent.)

To tell you the day was “Magical” would be trite and cliche; but we did all have a great time. Prior to Taiwan, I frequented the park with an annual pass, but that’s long since expired. To be able to spend the day there with a new group of friends was an unexpected treat.

Disneyland is funny like that. It doesn’t matter how many times you walk down Mainstreet, with each new group and new visit, the experience is different.

For example, this group decided to begin our trip in Fantasyland, which means the first attractions to conquer were some of the oldest in the park: Snow White, Pinnochio, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride…

It was on the third of the three that I noticed a pattern, or even a formula, for these rides:

  • Happy Beginning
  • Conflict
  • Abrupt Ending

So abrupt. Shockingly so. Almost as if to say that the ending of the ride isn’t the point. As if Walt himself sent me a message saying “You didn’t get on Snow White’s mine car just for it to finish. Enjoy the Ride.”

The purpose of the ride isn’t when the doors open and the car winds back round the track to the sunlight of “reality.”

The purpose is the ride itself.

The Journey.

Not the Destination.

I’m glad I figured this out on the first few rides. Sad to say, many didn’t. Brandt and I made that comment early on. He said he wanted to start a Disneyland Ministry just to cheer people up in the park, provided the Mouse (yea, that one) pays his entrance fee. I told him that sounded like being an employee.

I felt like a little kid thinking to myself “Why are there so many unhappy people at this place of happiness?!”

Not until I rode the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride did I discover, what I consider, the problem.

Mind you, Pirates is the ride that’s so dark for so long, I forget it’s high noon by the time it’s up. Also, it’s a fairly slow ride, so you tend to absorb what’s going on around you.

As we passed through the epic battle sequence, I realized the lady in front of me had not stopped texting since the ride began. The soft, obtrusive glow suddenly became louder than the cannon bursts and drunk animatronic seamen.

What was so urgent that she couldn’t enjoy the ride she’d waited in line for? Or was it “urgent” at all?

This brought me to a thought: Are we addicted to distractions?

I wondered about my fellow passenger in front of me: Did she ride that ride before? (Did she not realize its potential to be different every time?) Or was she coasting through, waiting for a big finish? Because there wasn’t one.

Upon returning from Taiwan, I realized how cluttered my life is. Why is it that I need music in my car when I drive? Why am I tempted toward store displays for more stuff? Why can’t I lay down my phone for a day; especially after going a year without one?

It was then I realized myself to be no better than my fellow passenger.

I want to de-clutter. I want to rid myself of stuff and distracting habits. I near dread Christmas. I value websites like The Minimalist Path and people like @Leo Babauta who stress Less is More.

My plan is to take the next few months to do just that. As a forewarning, this may lead to less blogging. But I’m not leaving forever, and only do so to prune back the clutter and nurture productivity; to cultivate life-giving habits — because frankly, I refuse to be addicted to distractions.

There was a moment, almost sad for me, when the young boy in front turned to the texting lady, all aglow, and exclaimed, “Did you see that? Did you see it just now?”

And prying herself from her white-noise screen, she replied,

“See what? I must have missed it.”

Life is a Journey, friends.

Enjoy the Ride.
Don’t miss it.

*Photo Credit: Fellow Disneyland-goer, Olivia Hales’ Facebook Album.

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10 thoughts on “Addictive Distractions, or How I Re-Learned My Mantra at Disneyland

  1. Andhari says:

    Been wondering what you up to..I love Disneyland. And you have great views about it and connecting it with humans in general.

    And speaking of distractions and people, I know a lot of people ( maybe you too ) can easily assume I’m addicted to one. I do some pretty bimbotic stuff. But what people don’t know is, I do try to enjoy the ride. No matter how tough it is, try to achieve my dreams and what I want. I might fall back and be distracted but at least I’m back again doing what I have to do in full force.

    It’s not always bad, now that I think of it.

    • Chase says:

      Andi, you definitely are someone who enjoys the ride, I certainly can see that.
      I just love the fact that you worked in the word “bimbotic” into that comment. lol

  2. Dianna A says:

    Dianna Anderson likes this.

    I allow myself to be distracted far too easily – facebook, tv, even homework – all of those things keep me from doing a lot of things I feel called to do.

    However, I do have to raise the point that distractions can be beneficial. I think life is more about walking the careful line between the focus and the distraction: too much concentration on either one can lead to a myopic state of mind, and that’s not good in any sense. While de-cluttering on the whole is usually a good thing (sometimes I look at my apartment and think my roommate and I really need to get rid of some junk), clutter can be inspirational too. I’ve had some great revelations because I was “distracting” myself. Distractions can help clarify where the focus should be. :)

    • Chase says:

      I agree, Dianna. The clutter-clean-up stage I am in, however, is the stage that sees what should be focused on and clears out the rest. It’s fair to say clutter has been used to be beneficial, but I’d lean toward it mostly just being in the way. Hence “clutter” :P

      Though, I’m sure if I exed my facebook, cellphone, and extra stuff, I still could find distractions to keep me from focusing on what I need. :)

  3. Diana says:

    I recently challenged myself to not have music on while I worked. I always have tv or music in the background but for one day, I turned off my cell phone, disconnected my internet, my music, my tv, and I didn’t last very long. As in, maybe an hour.

    I should def try it again!

  4. floreta says:

    hahaha i liked dianna’s ‘like’ comment *thumbsup*
    clever.

    great entry, chase! i remember being on the pirates of the carribean ride in FL and loving it. sure, it’s kiddie and all but i found it amusing how jack sparrow would pop out of the barrel and look around and look so real! and i loved this one [kiddie] ride i went to at epcot center where we chose the program to talk in german and ended up getting a german flash video of our cutout smiling faces in the end because it was just hilarious! point is i definitely try to enjoy each moment, even *distractions*, should the moment be one. :) i don’t mind a little here and there but i generally want to know my life has a general overall focus. though, definitely not against detours. it’s all part of the flowww..

  5. Sebastian says:

    Hah…

    I remember those rides as if they were only yesterday — well, it was only three years ago that I was there, but anyway…

    Funny thing is, I never think about this kind of thing. Because I’m too busy enjoying the ride… :)

    Instead of enjoying the ride, you are sitting there and wondering what the woman in front of you is up to. Not content to be yourself, to be in your own skin, to enjoy the moment (a journey is made up of many, many different glorious moments, as I’m sure you’re aware!)

    So I guess… yes… you should try to be less distracted by the minutia :)

  6. Jessie says:

    I’m convicted by this…oh, wait. Just got a text–I gotta go.

  7. Carson Leith says:

    Ah what a wonderful post Chase. Thanks for the encouragement to simplify and get rid of distractions.

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