The things I learn ...
Rambling about the art of making little magical moments.
Imagine if you will, its a brilliant sunny Sunday morning. You wake up refreshed from a long evening of making a crowd of smiles and you are eager to seize the day. What better way to Carpe Diem than to knock out those pesky 10,000 steps that we are all suppose to have at the end of the day? So you leash up your hyper energetic one year old lab mix and pounce out the door. A quicker than coffee pace down two flights of stairs and out into the bright warm sunny world.
You're being pulled by fifty plus pounds of canine energy. Tongue wagging with joy in the fresh morning air. The dogs tongue, not yours. At first its a strenuous isometric exercise, his energy pulling on your still, slightly sleepy human form. You strain your upper shoulders, arms, chest and back muscles for the first thousand steps or so. Then the pace begins to even out. “This is good for me," you think to yourself." I can feel my heart rate escalate to a reasonable workout rhythm.”
Quickly passing the centennial asian couple holding hands in the park on the walkway, you and your canine partner are spreading joyful energy throughout the parkway. Waving to joggers, cyclists and of course the cute asian centennials. Its a glorious, joyful day. Hurray.
Oh look, up ahead, a blue swallowtail butterfly, fluttering among the bushes. How pretty. Then just as you and fluffy come within fluttering flight space of said pretty blue swallowtail butterfly, your high energy fifty plus pounds of momentum instantly changes course on you to chase this beautiful natural distraction. Within a blink of your eye, your quick pace fast walking, sorta jogging pace takes an instant change of direction without warning. “Pop! Snap! Pain!” goes your shoulder as your canine partner now has jolted into a full forceful leap and bolting run in an opposite 160° direction. Instinctively you grab the now loose leash with your other hand as your current holding arm simply dangles in pain at your side. Your now stumbling through well kept shrubbery being dragged by your turncoat canine partner whose only goal now is to catch the butterfly.
People are screaming, children crying the cute asian centennials are having a heart attack because of the chaos you and your demon dog of doom are causing in the public park on this once wonderful Sunday morning. You’ve easily ceded your goal of 10000 steps. You’ve exhausted your canine companion. The pretty blue swallowtail butterfly has fluttered off into the distance, with a certain smirk of joy on her face.
You hobble home with an exhausted fifty plus pound puppy, You with your cuts and bruises and occasional twig or two in your shoe strings, your hair, your torn t-shirt and your worthless right arm, in pain, just dangling by your side, like a toy action figure whose shoulder stitch has come undone. There is not enough aspirin, ibuprofen, or wine in the house to ease the pain of not only your shoulder, cuts and bruises, but of your ego. The day started with a bright energetic ego of yours, convinced it would seize the day. Your ego was convinced it would become the model citizen in your neighborhood and do all the right things network society tells us is the right way to live. Your ego was ready to change the world, but now it’s damaged, wounded and suffering in a pain equal to your dislocated shoulder. Your egos only current helpful medicinal assistance comes from the very source of its damage. Your fifty plus pound energetic ball of fur and supreme muscle of a beast that caused this damage. Here your canine partner quietly, softly, gently rests his head in your lap with his sad puppy eyes looking up at you. As if he’s saying, “sorry, I didn’t catch that pretty blue swallowtail butterfly for you. Next time I will. I hope you feel better tomorrow, so we can do it again. "
*This post was created with voice dictation.” It took forever.” Now I wish there was a voice dictation or an eye controlled digital drawing tool so that I could get my work done today.”
Have a wonderful Sunday, Carpe Diem everybody, but leave the canines at home.
Wouldn't it be great to see drawings and sketches from people as they visualize this story?
A few weeks ago I had a visit with a NASA engineer. A friend of my wifes from high school. He’s an engineer that works on the air traffic control systems that the FAA uses. He’s also a marathon runner and a single father of twin 11 yr old boys. A great guy. A very active and a very creative mind. Highly intelligent. That should be a given. He’s a NASA engineer.
The reason. Bring him up in is because during our tour of Disney we got on the topic of creative thinking. Disney seems to bring out the best in peoples creative thinking. Imagine that. He was curious about the work I do, drawing smiles. I was extremely curious about the work that he was doing in his little corner of NASA. He is one of the engineers that works on the systems in air traffic control operations. Forecasting and planning years ahead in the safety of aviation, really interesting stuff and of course most of everything he said was way over my head. Still my imagination could see the idealistic visions that he shared with the rest of his NASA family.
One of the coolest things I learned is that for down time and stress release that he is into, aside from running marathons, he is also a master at the art of origami. That’s that. I said origami. When you think about this it makes perfect sense. A NASA engineer playing with the art of folding paper. The instinctive mathematics that goes into his creations. The planning, the per-conceived visions that it takes to turn a simple piece of paper into something clever and interesting. Recently NASA launched a new living quarters to the space station. Guess what? It was folded up inside a payload capsule. Then released into space and unfolded effortlessly to its full size and then easily installed in place on the space station. Origami on the largest scale imaginable created by your local origami artists at NASA.
All of the energy for satellites and the space station are generated by solar panels. Huge unfolding wings of solar panels. That when switched on, systematically unfold into their enormous size and instantly become fully operational, generating all the power they need. So to hear this NASA engineer brag about his master origami skills was just a wonderful example of genius ability and creative thinking to me. The bonus is that he has passed on his artistic skills to his twin 11 year old boys.
He and the twins will pass time at restaurants, in lines at movies or in Disney, in the lines for attractions. Together they will kill time by creating origami critters and little people then leave them n places all over the theme parks, restaurants, bathrooms and any unsuspecting public places for other pope to discover. Passing along their creative magic to others. Little magical treasures. This is something after my own heart. I just love it.
Imagine if you will. Your standing in line at the airport waiting for the TSA and you notice sitting on top of the little stand that you throw all your liquids into, a little origami man made of a metallic checked black and red paper waving at you. It is a good chance this NASA engineer or one of his twin sons were there before you and wanted to leave someone like you a little unsuspecting magical moment.
Isn’t that a great example of passing the creative magic along? It certainly is a great example of using your down time in a positive creative way. If you have any similar ways of creatively killing time or relieving stress, I’d like to here from you? Are any of you master origami craftsmen? Share your stories with me, I’d love to hear them. Please and thank you and have a creative day.
It was after closing hours. The guests were settling into their rooms. The parks, the restaurants the attractions were closing up. The wash down crews and maintenance teams were starting their shifts. Cast members from all walks of life were making their routine stop at the Gas station before they commuted home. I myself am waiting in line to pay for my milk, cookies and a tank of gas.
In front of me is an older man in his formal waiter attire. He's probably in his sixties. He has about five of those "certified foreign language badges on his name tag. "Luisao" it says on his name tag. He, like many cast members is joking with the cashier. They laugh, he leaves, I make nothing of it. I pay for my after work snack and gas and make my way to pump 14.
On pump 13 is Luiso. We both pumped our gas listening to the piped in pop music. He looks up at me and says "This music, it's pathetic. It has nothing." I agree with him and reply that there is no thought in the lyrics. There used to be real meaning in the lyrics. He stares at me and gives me the international shrug of approval. "In my car, I have Pavarotti." Was his reply. I told him all I have in my car is the jazz radio station. He smiled.
He then asked if I was a cast member. I said no, I'm just a caricaturist at some of the resorts. I quickly followed it up with a prideful, "but my wife is a chef in Epcot." Then he told me he was a waiter at Monsieur Paul. " I serve happiness. I've been there 30 years. Which restaurant does your wife workh at?"
"The Garden Grill, in the Land Pavillion. I like that you serve happiness, I like to say I draw smiles for a living. " he smiled at me warmly and chuckled.
Luiso put his pump handle back into the pump and stretched his hand out for me to shake as he said "We are lucky people, you, your wife and I, yes?"
"Yes, Luiso. Yes we are. Travel home safely. There is much more happiness to make tomorrow." I shake his hand. Put my pump handle up and as I'm getting into my car, I hear Pavarroti drive off into the night.
In recent days, I have looked out into my horizon and stood on the edge of my proverbial plank. I glanced at my past and my present, I turned around on the edge of that wobbly plank that is my current track in my life and I said to myself, “You’re about to be 51 years old. Do you really want to have your sons explain to their future partners in life that their dad is ‘just a street artist at Disney’, which, of course, there is nothing really wrong with that or do you really want to get out there and do something important, something of value? Would you rather save the world one smile at a time, or be a street artist at Disney?”
Well, I want to be known as the a guy who set himself apart from the rest if the world. I want to be the guy that may not have achieved an enormous goal, but he paved the way so that others may continue this mission in life; to save the world one smile at a time! I pondered all of these things as I stood on the edge of the plank and upon answering this question as to where my life was going, I turned around quite carefully and I looked at my users, my doubters, and my critics and I bid them all a polite, “Goodbye, I must be going.” I turned back around and looked into the sun and said, ” if Crystal can do this, then so can I.” And I took a little hop, turned in the air and gave them a cheerful “peace” sign with my right hand.
You see, almost three years ago my wife made a leap of faith to pursue her dream of being a chef at EPCOT in Disney World. Recently, she was named as Epcots Culinary employee of the quarter. She is very well on her way of pursuing her dream. She convinced the boys and I that dropping everything and moving with her on a culinary student externship at Disney World was a great idea and a life adventure we would never forget. She was the top of her culinary school and she new that she would get a full time job at Disney in culinary and make her dream come true.
So we packed up our life and moved to Florida and have continued to survive and thrive despite a few bumps in the road. In fact, during the past year, she has excelled at EPCOT even beyond her dreams. And by her doing that, living her dream, she has inspired me to do the same. I’ve spent the past two-and-a-half years drawing smiles. I’m drawing people from all over the world and being a very small part of a wonderful moment in their lives with my artistic gift. I love my work here at Disney, but it’s time to do more with my art. With greater works of art, I can make bigger smiles and perhaps increase the my influence in others by going out on my own.
“Splash” I jump off the plank and into the unknown. I’ve already met others who share my passion and together we plan to take on our individual missions with our artwork and spread our positive influence in ways we’ve never imagined we could or would before. I can’t wait to share my greater works of art with the world, I can’t wait to share my artistic experience with others as they seek to improve their lives too. I’m looking forward to growing creatively as I help others grow themselves. All of this is possible with the upcoming opportunity that I am taking on in the next few weeks to come. Scared? Yes. Excited? Even more so. Ready? Oh I think I’m more than ready. My wife is my inspiration. Seeing what she has achieved because she believe it could be done has inspired me beyond understanding. Besides, what could possibly go wrong?
More as this work of art I call “my life” develops.
From Ty Walls:
After four decades drawing smiles I often encounter remarkable people. I've learned to create little special moments for people from all around the world with my simple smile-drawing skills. But sometimes, life creates little magical moments for me. This blog is my attempt to share them with you.