7 days, 7 photos, 7 stories: Day One - Magic

I am fortunate enough to be preparing for a photography show at the Turner Center for the Arts in Valdosta, GA that begins on Monday September 26th (opening is from 5-7PM). This show is a little different than others I've done because, as I review the thousands of images I've captured in the last 5 years, I'm not looking for the ones that I know are technically accurate. Instead I am listening for the ones that have stories to tell. And I am going to tell them, right alongside the photos.

So for the next 7 days I am going to be writing a blog a day - a teaser of some of the images you'll see if you come to the show. Some are images you've seen before, maybe here. Some are new even to me (first time round for edits). But all offer a glimpse into the journey - heavy with travel, poignant with memory, and fueled by a fire that just wants to burn brighter.

Day One: Magic

Many children make their first journey to Disney Land or Disney World at a young age. Hand in hand with their parents, they take the first steps towards what will become life-long vacation traditions that they'll then share with their children, soaring into imagination, dreams and magic with just a hint of pixie dust.

I, on the other, hand, didn't set foot in the world of Walt Disney until I was the ripe old age of 21. As a result, I went in with the mind of an adult with just a brief nod to my child's heart that still apparently hoped to be swept away to a time when eating ice cream for breakfast was perfectly acceptable and there was a beautiful fairy godmother waiting only to grant my every wish.

Despite being older than most, it turns out I was not, am not, immune to the magic of this place. I have, in the years between that one and this, been to both Disney World and Disney Land probably more than 20 times. Which isn't saying much when comparing it to those who go every year, or every weekend. But it's not a bad start. I don't, however, feel as though I am putting on rose colored glasses or living the life of an adult who only wants to be a child again (well, ok, maybe a little) upon entering through those arched gateways. Instead, as an adult, what I see is a world that has come to life beyond the planning and expectations of any who worked on it. I am, quite simply, in awe. I am in awe of this - one man's dream. I am in awe of  everything that has come forward from that dream. I am in awe that it was one man with a vision and a willingness to defy anything that had been done before and do it anyway, despite what others thought, that made all of this possible. And then he didn't just do it. He out did it.

Walt Disney, for all that I can perceive, was one of the most forward-thinking individuals that ever walked this earth. No, he didn't invent the cure for cancer. No, he didn't achieve world peace. But what he did was create a place where people could go and leave behind their troubles. A place where the adult could become the child, and not be laughed at for wearing Mickey Mouse ears. A place where the culture of the creation infuses magic into both the people who visit and the people who work there. I am amazed at how we embrace - maybe need - this concept, at the way that adults and children alike spend money well-earned and long-saved to once a year or once in a lifetime make the trip to this empire - this world of imagination beyond any boundaries.

I have a friend who works for Disney Land, and through him I have been able to learn not just about the place, but a little about the man who created it, and a lot about the reasons and care and thought and detail that went into this world without end. And more than anything, I look at each excursion to Disney Land or Disney World as a reminder that all it takes is one person with the determination, against all odds, to make a dream happen. And I am refreshed in believing that this too could be, is, me.

Disney said it best: "Somehow I can't believe there are any heights that can't be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C's. They are Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, and Constancy and the greatest of these is Confidence. When you believe a thing, believe it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably."

Well said. Now go out and live your dream. With a little bit of bibbity bobbity boo, anything is possible.


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