Sunday, January 29, 2012

Our Connectedness to Each Other (Part I)

2012 started off with a bang… literally. On New Year’s Eve I was standing in front of the Sleeping Beauty castle at Disneyland with my kids and their friends. This moment was the culmination of several months of planning – coordinating the logistics and budgets for transportation, accommodations, and itineraries for our stay at the “happiest place on earth.” We would ring in the New Year to a sky painted with brilliant fireworks like no other (as only Disney can do) and it would be a sign of the happiness and prosperity that was to come with the year 2012.

WELL… that was the plan anyways.

Reality always has a way to show us that even the best laid plans will not come to fruition if that is not what the universe has planned, lol… and so it was, Murphy’s Law ran amuck that night. That evening, the fog decided to roll into Anaheim (I was told by some locals that this only happens every so many years), so that by , Sleeping Beauty castle was barely visible. It was cold; the kids and I had been waiting in a designated area for about 2 hours just so we could have a good spot with which to catch the first round of fireworks at 9:30pm… and my girlfriend (who had taken the trip with us) was sick with the flu and in her hotel room, unable to hold down any food all day. With great anticipation, we all hoped the fireworks would brighten the sky and by default, brighten our mood. 

BOOM… BOOM… BOOM… we could hear the fireworks sail into the sky as they were being launched, but where were they???? Another set of loud booms and still… nothing. As luck would have it, the fog was too thick for the fireworks to boast their brilliance, and the realization that we would not be able to see any fireworks for this show or at was a sobering bubble buster. This disappointment could be felt among the masses, evident in their faces the looks of defeat, resignation and anguish that the ringing in of the New Year at Disneyland would not go as planned. The fog had proved to be a cloud that would over shadow us in many ways.

Recognizing the irony of the situation, my kids and I began to play along with Mother’s Nature’s cruel joke: we began to utter sounds of “ooooh” and “aaaaah” with every boom of the fireworks being launched. We looked up at the sky, acting as if marveled by the fireworks, some of my kids’ friends even commented on the colors, lol… and people thought we were nuts. But within a few minutes, those immediately around us began to join us in the ooohing and aaahing, recognizing the opportunity to still have a laugh in the moment, even though the joke was on us, lol.

That trip has made for a wonderful tale to tell when folks have asked me, “So, what did you do over the holiday break?” But even more so, it became a reminder to me about how connected we are to one another. It’s easy to see this when you are lumped into a group like that – rounded up and corralled in a certain space, waiting for the much anticipated event. While waiting, it’s easy to strike up conversations with perfect strangers, inquire about their wait times for the more popular rides and discuss the attractions that they’ve enjoyed the most. It is as if the difference between class, race, or culture does not exist or at least has minimal significance at this point, because the more relevant piece is our commonality as Disney-attendees. We were all joined by this common fact… and we all experienced the same fate and the same disappointment when the fog ruined the fireworks show. This was equally distributed – no one got a better view because they paid more for special park privileges: we were all equals at that point in time because there was nothing to see… and no amount of money, special privileges or favors was going to change that sad fact.

And so, as I watched the crowd disburse - folks separating off to make tracks for their hotels, while others moved to ride on more rides, I wondered what happened to the comraderie that connected us all during that period of time... the moment had provided us a glimpse of mutuality, and yet, when all was said and done, we all seemed to be so willing to disappear back into our lives dictated by social boundaries, content to be strangers once again... 

It made me wonder... just how is it that we can forget our fundamental connection to one another?  Why do you suppose that is?