The things I learn ...
Rambling about the art of making little magical moments.
There are probably a few of you out there that are getting a little tired of me going on about the power of a good smile shared with strangers. I suspect there a plenty of you that think my “Saving the World One Smile at a Time” is a trite marketing ploy. Perhaps there are even those of you who think I’m a foolish man for dropping out of Corporate America to pursue such a senseless endeavor of drawing smiles and creating crowds of smiles and sharing simple old fashion laughter among strangers from foreign lands. With all things being considered, I’ll have to weigh the balances of reality and the common core of truth and say that perhaps in one perspective, those whom cast shadows of doubt and disbelief may have a point. Of course, I personally wouldn’t stand on a single inch of such opinions. To each their own, I suppose. It’s a free country…. for now.
If you happen to be one of those negative thinking types I suggest you move on if you are not open to new ideas. However, if you are open to new ideas and you have a glimmer of hope in your heart, then please enjoy this little tidbit I’m about to share with you.
I've mentioned this before, but there is truly something magical that happens within the borders of Walt Disney World. I’ll admit as much as I wanted to believe when I first joined this circus that I honestly thought it was a bunch of big corporation marketing manipulation of heartstrings dangling from humanity. As most of you know, I’ve morphed into not only a believer of this magical entity here at WDW, but I’ve learned to generate and create such magical moments here in the most magical place on earth. (Now that’s Giant Corporate manipulation of humanities heartstrings).
Enough of theoretical explanations. Here’s a true moment that I was very pleased to be a part of for an older couple from Michigan. They were Disney Vacation Club members. (A wonderful program as far as time shares go…) They were a sweet and humble pair who simply love Disney for what it really is - an escape. A place as Walt said, where “dreams do come true”. Walt was right. Dreams do come true here. The trick is that you have to be open to that fantastic stretch of reality to make such magic happen. This older couple from Michigan (60-somethings) were so capable of believing in such magic that they become DVC members years ago. If you are curious about a DVC (Disney Vacation Club) membership, I encourage you to visit with a DVC member, not a sales person, but an actual member of the program.
This couple from Michigan approached me at one of the many resort caricature stands on a pretty slow night and engaged me in a dialogue. “Excuse me" She said, “May I ask you a question?” "Of course" I said “and you just did.”
“No I mean .. funny, but can you draw someone from a photo?” "Of course" I said, "but I would have to see the photo just to make sure”. She then pulled her phone out and scrolled to a photo of a young man (18-19yrs old) and the young man was leaning his head sideways onto the shoulder of a very old man with one eye. I thought I was going to have to draw the old guy with one eye and not make him look like Popeye. He did look like Popeye.
She asked if I could draw her and her husband and the young man in the photo leaning his head on her shoulder. I said of course. The the magic started to develop in the room. She and her husband both looked at each other and got a little wet eyed, if you know what I mean. So much so that I asked “Why? Whats up?”
She then proceeded to tell me that in the last two weeks they’ve been here at Disney World that they have asked artist after artist in the parks and various resorts of the could do this drawing and they were turned down. They were given various reasons, the most common was that the young man's head was turned at an odd angle and they couldn’t draw him unless his head was upright. I seriously thought this to be a bogus response, but whatever. I agreed and asked her to sit down first, then I’d draw the young man on her shoulder and then the husband behind them. She was trying so hard to hold back tears I had to ask again “Whats the story here?”
Then they told me. They shared with me why this was such an important drawing for them, even if it was a silly caricature. Turns out that the young man was their son. He was a victim of a tragic accident and passed away earlier last year. He was suppose to be with them on this winter trip to Walt Disney World. They obviously were still grieving over his sudden departure from their lives. Now once I heard the story, I started to get weepy eyed. We continued our conversation while I worked on the drawing. I was told many stories of what a wonderful young man their son was. He attended an honors high School. He was very active in the student body. It appeared everyone there loved him. They created a scholarship for seniors at his former school in his name with a non profit organization that they formed after his death. He was a handsome young man with a huge heart and a brilliant mind. He liked everyone he met. He was a shining light for everyone at his school. I could go on, but I’m betting that you get the picture. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
I finished the caricature and upon revealing it to them, were were more tears and a few very strong hugs. Those are the best tip ever by the way, just saying.
So, there you go, another very simple moment of saving the world one smile at a time. Simply by being open to assist. Simply by being willing to accept a challenge from a couple of strangers. Simply by being willing to serve what little talent and skills I have to please a couple on vacation, attempting to escape their troubled world, I was able to make their world a better place. For this couple, a very sweet and humble hearted couple from a rural area of Michigan, I created a little Disney magical moment. Not to mention the onlookers whom were intuitive enough to catch on that something very special was happening right in front of them. They caught some of that magic as well. Hopefully, they’ll have a chance to pass the magic along to someone else. All it takes is creating a little smile with a couple of strangers. Hopefully, now that I’ve shared this story with you, you’ll have the confidence and the open heart to do the same. I dare all of you to share a smile with a stranger in the most simplest of interactions. Regardless of the situation, I’m sure if you get the chance, you’ll change the world for others too.
Please and thank you, have a great day.
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?
I have a hundred magician friends and I always admire their showmanship. All of them are, well for a better word, magical. The way they handle a small audience of strangers at their table side magic just wows me. I'm more enamored by the way they instantly gain the attention and respect of their small up close crowd of strangers. Its just wonderful stuff. Being a caricaturist that is often crowded and moved my strangers so much that I feel like I can't breathe, much less draw because I can't move my elbows,; I am always most fond of their ability to gain respect from the crowds. Oh and their crafty magic is something of legends as well. In fact, I recently started playing with the idea of creating a little magic of my own at some of my gigs; when appropriate of course.
Recently I have developed a fun entertain event trick that is just as much fun to perform as it is for the audience to witness. I've learned to draw caricatures blindfolded. Yes, its crazy. Yes, its not necessary. Yes, its fun to attempt. Yes, its fun to watch happen live at events.
Attached is a little 4 minute clip of an interaction with a young man whom I enjoyed visiting with very much before the real event started. It was a delightful event for Farm Bureau Insurance at the beautiful Omni Resort on Amelia Island. I hope you enjoy this little clip of sketching and drawing fun.
Thanks for watching and please go into the world and make a stranger smile.
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.