Finding Zen at Disney

We took our five year old twin boys to Disney two weeks ago and on the our third  boat ride through It’s A Small World, I had an epiphany. Okay, here, I’ll set the scene for you:

You know the ride, right? Harmonic child voices sing…La La La La LA La La (until you’re la-la-lulled into forgetting you just stood in line for forty-five minutes) while the tiny boat glides through crystal clear water; carrying you from one magical scene of moving, dancing, twirling, hang-gliding animatronic children and animals from foriegn lands to another. By the third turn, you really forget you’re in Orlando.

Er. Full Stop.

By the third turn you really should have forgotten you’re in Orlando.

While all this magical stuff was happening around me and my boys were oooing and aaaaahing over all the magical stuff, here’s what was going through my mind:

“Wow, this is a lot of stuff to keep dusted.”

“I wonder what the electric bill runs for this ride alone? Guess I shouldn’t complain about my hubby’s Christmas light obsession.”

“Oh…there’s an emergency exit! It might be important that I noticed that if we get stuck in here or if terrorists hit Disney or…what if there really will be a zombie apocolypse?”


So, the epiphany hit me around the North American room. This ride was a miniturized version of my life! I am going through my days like each of those amazing rooms, not really paying attention to the experience but instead worrying about the dust.

And the bad part is, I know better. I’ve read all the zen books, the live-in-the-moment books, the breathe-and-shut-up-your-monkey-mind books. But in all those hours of pouring over books, I missed the whole point somehow. (I’m giggling to myself right now) The point is just to be. Just to experience it…this mysterious thing called life. Just to enjoy the small, make-believe drummers without wondering if one of those sticks could possibly fly loose and poke my child’s eye out.

And I suddenly understood (not with my head but with my heart) what this wize woman  means when she says, “My life is my practice.”

And so, I have been practicing. It’s tricky though. I have to catch myself. There are more and more moments when I truly am there, fully present in my own life. Moments when I’m watching my five year old struggle to read a new word and I’m not thinking about the fact I forgot to let the dog out; moments when we’re playing Go Fish as a family and I fight to keep my attention on the smiles and giggles instead of the pile of dishes from dinner.

Will the stuggle to stay present get easier? I’ll have to let you know. But I can tell you one thing…

Life is much less stressful when you don’t dwell on the dust!

13 thoughts on “Finding Zen at Disney

  1. alicamckennajohnson

    These sound like my Zen moments! There is this quote I love that is perfect for this. But I can’t remember it! Something like intelligence isn’t wisdom, wisdom is knowing, and knowing isn’t enlightenment.

  2. Pat O'Dea Rosen

    “Wow, this is a lot of stuff to keep dusted.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought the same thing, Shannon. Like you, I aim to stay present. Thanks for the link to Maezen–and for the laugh.

  3. Fabio Bueno

    Thanks for the post, Shannon. I need this wake-up call from time to time. I can be Zen-like for a couple of weeks, and then I get back to my bad habits. Is there such a thing as “temporary Zen”? 🙂

  4. Karen McFarland

    Oh, I love the temporary Zen too!

    But I have to say that I’m not quite sure about the forgetting about the dinner dishes! lol

    We all need to let things go from time to time. But its easier said than done.

    Things do get better Shannon. Hang in there girl and just enjoy those beautiful children of yours. They’re only young once! 🙂

    1. Shannon Esposito Post author

      Thanks for stopping by everyone! Looks like we all “know” the what, we just forget the “how” 🙂 As for things getting better, I think that’s the point. There is no better or worse except for in our own judgement. I’m trying to stop judging the moments and just live them.

  5. Marcy Kennedy

    Well put and so very true. You had me chuckling because your inner voice sounds so much like mine. I struggle to stay in the moment too. If you ever find a way to make it easier, let me know 🙂

  6. Louise Behiel

    Great post Shannon, I think we all have those aha moments when we wonder what we’re doing and why. I was so busy I think I missed most of my kids’ childhoods, but I vow I won’t do that with my grandchildren. And as for the dusting — after I decluttered my house, I had a lot less to dust and I try very hard to keep it that way.

    thanks for a good read (by the way, good work on noticing anything going thru It’s a small World. I couldn’t get that song out of my mind for hours after that ride

  7. Deanna Schrayer

    So very well said Shannon! And I’m sure all us mommies, (and lots of daddies too), can relate – I certainly can. I’m ashamed to say that I too often have to have my hubby point out that I’m focusing too much on everything except the particular moment we’re spending with our boys. I do try to put all else (and it usually involves the day job) outside my mind, but not nearly enough. You have inspired me to try harder – thank you for that.

    It sounds like you all had a great time at Disney. We took our sons when they were too young – 2 and 4 – (they’re 12 and 14 now) so they don’t remember much about it, but I’m glad we got to go, it truly is a magical place.

  8. Debra Kristi

    I am also a constant work in progress. I often catch myself thinking about the dust and upkeep and I don’t want to do that. My husband is always reminding me to stop worrying about all the little things. Like I said – work in progress.


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