I've just returned from Disneyland, which is a fascinating place. From the moment you walk through the gates you are transported into another world that seems more colorful and exciting than the one you left behind. There are several parades a day, ice cream and candy available on every corner, people running around in elaborate costumes wherever you look, music, fireworks, lightshows . . . . everything you could imagine.
But what I was most fascinated by on this particular trip was that it seems when one enters this alternate reality one feels inclined to adopt alternative values. Or at least I did. And I saw others doing things that I found to be questionable so I don't think I'm the only one.
Now, before you go thinking that I was shoplifting Mickey ears, I would like to explain what I mean by alternative values. It wasn't that I was doing things that were overtly wrong--it was just that I found myself being a lot more narcissistic than usual. I felt like I was running around the park trying to grab as much of the experience as I could for myself and my kids. I hardly gave a thought for other people, except to wish that they weren't in my way. Hurrying to get a better spot in a line, crowding in for a better view of the show, and feeling this strange of disappointment if I wasn't being expressly delighted and entertained at every turn.
I saw others scrambling as well, in their own ways. At the entry gates we saw a family trying to pass off a 4-year-old for a 2-year-old. I saw lots of people in wheelchairs that looked like they weren't wheechair regulars. I think Disneyland is the only place on earth where faking that you are wheelchair-bound is advantageous. You don't have to walk for miles around the park AND you (and the sucker that you talked into pushing you) don't have to wait in any lines.
I might not have even given any thought to any of this if that lady hadn't called me a liar.
I won't bore you with too many details. Short Version: I was waiting in line with Sydney to meet Princess Tiana. Lady (Disneyland employee) comes up and tells me I cut in line. I'd been there since before the line had formed, waiting at least 5 minutes, and so I politely said, "No, I'm sorry, you are mistaken." I expected that to be the end of the conversation. Lady doesn't believe me and we have an exchange in which she basically calls me a liar. I know that I am not a liar, and that I didn't cut in line, and since I am completely stubborn in every way, I ignore the lady, take Sydney to see Tiana, and leave Lady with smoke coming out her ears as she complains to a fellow employee.
It made me realize that in my normal life I expect to be taken at my word, and I usually am. I place a high value on my honesty was highly insulted to be called a liar. But in my normal life it also wouldn't have been that big of a deal to simply say, "I'm so sorry, I didn't think I had cut in line, but maybe I'm wrong. Please accept my apologies and we'll move to the back." But you see, in Disneyland, being polite would have meant losing precious time that I could have used waiting in line for another 90-second thrill.
Don't get me wrong--Disneyland was great. I loved it and feel absolutely fortunate to have been able to spend time with my family and friends there. We made lots of great memories. I just found it interesting that from the moment I walked into a place that was so abundant with opportunities for pleasure that all I could think of was getting more and more and more.
Why couldn't I have sat down on the bench and said to myself, "It is enough."?