“Mom, you need to come in here.” This was Anna calling to me from the bathroom of our hotel room. Half an hour earlier I had stretched the hotel blow dryer from its location next to the sink, into the room that contained the bathtub and toilet. I wrapped the cord around the faucet, and put the blow dryer in my shoe.
About now you are probably wondering what in the world I was doing. Well, let me tell you. I was feeling brilliant!
We were at Disneyland celebrating Anna’s 21st birthday. Yes, her birthday was in July and yes it was now December. But there we were, with my parents, my son and daughter-in-law and my nephew. It was our second day and until now it had been magical!
Disneyland had been transformed into a Magical Christmas Wonderland. Garlands hung from buildings. Lights twinkled, illuminating trees and roof lines. Christmas trees rose tall and majestic on Main Street. Christmas carols floated on the air. The very atmosphere was charged with a festive energy as gingerbread scented snow fell from the Southern California sky. Yep, snow in Southern California. Only at Disneyland!
An early catastrophe had been avoided when a kind man working Space Mountain recovered my cell phone. It had fallen from my pocket on our first ride on our first day. In that moment, when he placed the phone in my hand I was sure nothing could mar this trip.
From there it only got better. We had not waited more than 10 minutes to get on a ride. I’d enjoyed a Disneyland corn dog … hands down the best corn dogs on earth … and I consider myself a connoisseur. We’d laughed and laughed until I cried and my sides hurt. I was surrounded by people I love.
The magic continued into day two. We’d walked thirteen miles the first day, and the park would be open later this night. For these reasons we decided an afternoon break was in order.
Knowing we’d be returning to the hotel room, we board a raft on the Grizzly River Raft Ride, affectionately known in our family as GRRR. The day before, we’d exited the ride with clothes soaked, hair hanging damp in our faces, and water squishing in our shoes with each step.
This time however we were prepared! We donned our newly purchased plastic ponchos, (at least the girls did), full of naive expectation that the plastic would somehow protect us. We’d learn that the water would find it’s way over the top, in the sides and splash up from the bottom. As a result, when we started the mile-long walk back to our hotel room we were once again wet and cold, but happy.
After changing from my wet clothes, I put the blow dryer in the porcelain sink with my wet shoes, hoping they would dry and plopped onto the bed with my laptop to complete some work before we returned to the park.
My dad asked about the persistent noise and in an effort to ease the annoyance I moved the shoes and blow dryer to the bathtub. I closed the door, the noise was muffled and I returned to the bed satisfied that I’d solved this minor issue and could only be considered brilliant …. until my high horse violently bucked me off with those 7 little words from Anna, “Mom, you need to come in here.”
I responded, somewhat tongue in cheek and with a little chuckle, “What, did the blow dryer melt my shoe?”
“No worse. It melted a hole in the tub!”
What?! How can that be? A blow dryer can’t put a hole in a bathtub!! But it did. Right there, where the bottom of the tub meets it’s side was a silver dollar sized hole. There was no denying it. My mind raced. Could I fix it. Yes, I probably could. With a repair kit and a little bit of time. That was it. I’d just find a Lowes or Home Depot and I’d fix the tub before we left. But I wasn’t sure I could find an exact color match and did I really want to spend my vacation repairing a bathtub?
Google “what to do if you melt a hotel bathtub” and you will get exactly zero responses. Nada. Zip. Apparently I am the first person in the history of the internet to make this particular blunder.
I weighed my options, then drug myself to the front desk and attempted to explain to the manager what had happened. After several attempts to comprehend what I was saying he simply said he would send a maintenance man.
I left the office, dejected and depressed. This mistake was going to cost me more than the rest of the trip combined and I had certainly not budgeted for “melted bathtub”.
As I walked back to our room alone, I had some time to think. I recalled something I’d heard recently. “If the thing you are worried about will not matter in 5 years, don’t give it more than 5 minutes of energy or worry.” My memory was sketchy on the details. Maybe it actually said not to give it more than 5 hours of worry. I don’t know, but I had a firm grasp on the concept.
I knew, in that moment, I had a choice to make. I could let this ruin my trip or I could choose joy. I have the incredible privilege of being able to choose how I frame this story, not just here on my blog, but there, in that moment. In the moment of my distress. And in the moments that would follow.
I was in Disneyland. With three of my kids, two of which I don’t see often. I was spending time with my nephew, my parents. I was in the Happiest Place on Earth. A place where the worries of life can be set aside for a time and you can be transported back to childhood. Where magic is real and one can believe that dreams do come true. I was experiencing something that, for many, remains only a distant dream.
A place that is the reality of one man’s audacious dream, a dream that today touches millions of lives every year, providing joy for it’s guests and employment for thousands of families.
I love the story of Walt Disney because he was a dreamer. Disneyland was another dream in a long list of dreams pursued and obtained by Walt. Dreams that were pursued with great risk and at great cost. If you haven’t already, watch the movie Walt Before Mickey. Be inspired. Be challenged.
In that moment, walking from the office to the hotel room, confronted with my choice, I chose not to let stress steal joy. I chose not to steal the joy of those with me. There was not a thing, not one thing I could do about that tub. It was stupid, but it had happened and I would have to make it right. That was the cold, hard truth. But I didn’t have to let it be more than that. The circumstances had not changed, but I could.
In 5 years, it would be a mere memory, something the kids would bring up to tease me and we would all laugh together. I chose not to give it more than 5 minutes of worry, 5 minutes of energy. If I’m really honest, I chose not to give it 5 more minutes of worry. I’d surpassed the 5 minute milestone before I’d ever made it to the front desk. None-the-less, on that walk, alone, I made a choice.
That’s the real beauty, the real magic and most of us miss it. We have a choice! We can embrace faith or embrace fear. We can choose stress or we can choose joy. We can focus on what we don’t have or we can be thankful for the blessings we do have.
The choices we make ultimately make all the difference in our lives, in who we become, in our characters. They even affect our health. Choosing joy combats the damaging effects of stress. And, it affects those around us. Let’s be carriers of joy, people who enrich the lives around us in spite of negative circumstances. People who choose, and choose again and keep choosing to embrace joy, to grab it fiercely and hold on tenaciously.
There is tremendous power in realizing we can choose and in choosing joy.
5 years, 5 minutes. It’s your choice.