“Happiness held is the seed. Happiness shared is the flower.” ~John Harrigan
Last week my brother, sister, and brother-in-law visited me, just after my sister’s honeymoon. I’d been on the east coast the week prior, serving as my sister’s Maid of Honor.
On one of our two big day trips, we went to Disneyland—somewhere my boyfriend and I go frequently.
As annual passholders, we’ve visited close to thirty times in the last two years. And, though it’s always a blast since we’re big kids with rent and emerging wrinkles, I’ve admittedly started to take it for granted.
I still get off Space Mountain with a mile-wide grin, windblown hair, and a giggly, “That was awesome!” But I’ve started saying things like, “The Aladdin show’s okay.” And “World of Color doesn’t really impress me.”
In fact, I almost sanctioned us missing the music and water show, since it was almost 9:00 and none of us had eaten dinner.
Twenty minutes later I was so grateful that we’d pushed through and made it.
After I repositioned my five-foot sister roughly fifteen times to ensure she got a good view (since I’m so much taller at five-foot-one) I settled into my own standing spot in front of my boyfriend.
As the colorful water shot up, with Disney images projected onto it, to the sound of classic songs, I remembered that it’s actually beyond impressive.
Still, I found myself fixated on my sister, whose eyes lit up like a five year old on Christmas morning.
She seemed to sing along with some of the songs, and though she occasionally jumped up to see beyond an oversized head, for the most part she seemed blissfully hypnotized by the spectacle and nostalgia.
When the show stopped after a pyrotechnic display, with images and music from Pirates of the Caribbean, something even more beautiful happened: My sister broke down in happy tears.
This experience that I’d almost written off as not that special evoked something so emotional and joyful in her that I actually teared up at the sight of it.
She told me she hadn’t been to Disney World in Florida (closer to our east coast roots) since we were kids, and that she didn’t really remember it. I hadn’t realized that.
Until that moment, I hadn’t fully grasped what an exciting, new experience this was for her.
My sister works hard, and she’s dealt with so much in the past several years, including more medical issues than any one person should have to bear.
When she got a throat infection before her wedding, I felt sad that she wouldn’t experience her husband vowing to love her in sickness and in health while enjoying the latter. I wanted to see her euphorically happy—I wanted her to feel all the good things I know she deserves.
When I saw her pure joy and appreciation in a moment of childlike wonder, I felt grateful that I got to witness it—and so glad I helped create it. I may not be able to take away her pain, but I can lead her to joy. I can be there for her and there with her, for the tears in both the dark and the light.
As I stood there, in awe of her raw emotion, I remembered three simple but powerful truths about love:
Appreciation grows deeper through sharing. Beauty doubles when we see it through our own perspective and through the eyes of a friend.
Love is the deepest form of mindfulness. Little brings us into the moment like giving our complete attention to others and witnessing their experience of the world.
Real magic is wanting and creating joy for others. Happy endings only happen in fairy tales—and life’s not always all singing and dancing—but happy middles can happen everyday if we find reasons to smile with people we love.
World of Color Photo by HarshLight