We’ve all heard the expression, “Stop and smell the flowers,” right? It’s a nice reminder to stay present in the moment, enjoy the now, and appreciate the world around you. Lyndsey and I did this past week. Kind of. We went to Lowe’s, picked out a few flowers based on the colors that we liked and what we thought could thrive in the yard, brought them home, and planted them.
They only cost a few dollars and a few hours, but we absolutely love them. The next day, she went to Disneyland with her sister and sent me pictures of flowers from the park, and I sent her back photos of our flowers.
All of this reminds me of an interview from a few decades ago when science fiction writer Ray Bradbury talked about his friendship with Walt Disney and what exactly makes Disneyland so special. For Ray, it wasn’t really about Tomorrowland, Space Mountain, or Star Tours. Quite the contrary. Instead, he talks about the park as being “full of things we didn’t need but really needed.”
It’s all about the trees, the benches, and the flowers. Ray is right. Ray is right because an amusement park needs rides, shows, and attractions. It doesn’t really need trees, benches, and flowers.
But Walt gave them to us anyway. And once he gave them to us, we realized we needed them all along. This is what separates Disneyland from every other amusement park. This is what makes it special.
Ray recognized Walt’s special gift as a futurist and an urban planner. He knew what Walt was doing at Disneyland wasn’t just changing amusement parks around the world but cities around the world as well. He loved Walt’s dream for Epcot, and Ray Bradbury helped the Disney Company develop the story and script for Spaceship Earth.
If you are like me, it is tempting to want to fill your life, home, and relationship with the more obvious E-ticket type attractions. The big trip, the big TV, and the big occasion are like riding Space Mountain, Star Tours, and Buzz Lightyear within an hour of rope drop.
Life, like the park, is filled with many more trees, benches, and flowers than rides, shows, and attractions. Focusing only on the future and constantly racing to what’s next misses the point. We miss out on the smaller things that can make life special.
My challenge to you this week is to give yourself, your home, or someone you love something you or they “don’t need but really need.” Treat yourself to your favorite cup of coffee. Give a room in your house a spring cleaning. Leave someone a note of love or appreciation.
Make someone, even if it’s yourself, feel special. We all need it.
More than we know.