Minimalism and The Mouse

The vagabond road show rolls along…


…to Disneyland!

Michelle and I drove into Anaheim on Monday night, and by Tuesday morning we were standing in long lines to spend 4 minutes of stomach churning excitement with our nephews.

In one full day of Disney, we rode enough rides and ate enough poorly made and unsustainably sourced food as to fill our entire souls with puke. Ah but let me not dwell only upon the shadows when there too is light…

the boys loved it!

I was impressed by the skilled craftsmanship that went into the park- how an army of mad hatters had combined great vision with expert execution to turn this plot of the land into a city of mobile sculptures.

But, there is something underneath it all, too, that the uncritical eye misses. Go into one of the endless stores or popups selling merchandise, turn around a Boba Fett mug, or look at the tag of your Beauty and the Beast t-shirt and see: Made in China. The critic must consider the cost of the labor hired to produce these goods as well as what restrictions were there on pollution in the factories in which these goods were produced.

My readers know that I am no fan of the Donald’s nationalist agenda, however he has been saying some interesting stuff about China re:tariffs while strong-arming them into better business behaviors. (Check out the book Poorly Made in China: An Insider’s Account of the China Production Game by Paul Midler for a deeper analysis of Chinese greed). But, when discussing the mountains of crap for sale at Disney, I can’t blame China for meeting our demands or for Trump for being a putz (unrelated jab). The onus is on US.

It seems to me that what Americans do not need is to keep buying, buying, buying more crap that we do not need (unless you are really, really, really having difficulty surviving because you lack the proper supply of mugs, t-shirts, and shittily made chachtkas.

This line of questioning led me down the internet rabbithole of Dismaland, a far more comprehensive critique of The House of Mouse. Please read the above link to learn about Banksy’s recent, brilliant theme park, if this is news to you.

Photos from Bansky’s 2015 installation: “Dismaland”


And for something equally brilliant and satirical, Southpark went there in an episode entitled “The Ring.” (Unfortunately I am unable to provide a hyperlink to this- but please do find it, in order to see Mickey say, “You think God is in control here? I’m in control. I’ve been in control since the ’50s, in case you haven’t noticed!”)

Screenshot of Mickey putting a beatdown on a Jonas brother.

But I digress….

On the following morning, after all of the expensive fun had been had, we watched our nephews run up and down an escalator, noting that they could have stayed there doing that for hours. Who needs to spend $150 per person per day for a theme park filled with expensive photos, memorabilia, toys, t-shirts…when you can just take these guys to a moving staircase and let them be amazed!

As Michelle and I are looking more closely at our lives, and thinking about all of the stuff we chose to keep in our POD, and as we drive around from place to place unloading and reloading the few items that we kept, we both agree that we have kept far too much.

How many things do we really need to be happy? How many hoodies, how many flannels, how many shoes? Is it possible that less stuff would give us more time, more space, more life?

What lessons we are learning on the road? About need versus desire. About comfort versus surplus. About stress versus happiness. How much more must we buy to feel fulfilled? What do we truly lack?

Picture taken while packing the POD with all of our stuff (note: none of it is missed, except for some of my art supplies)

The longer we remain mobile- the more we are reminded how full life can be when tied down to less things.

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