When Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse and dreamed of a Magic Kingdom, he was having fun. He believed that his creations could help other people have fun.
Walt wanted to make a living of course, but that was not his main goal. He enjoyed his work, wanted it to spread joy and help others laugh and experience the innocence they knew in childhood.
When we see how Walt Disney's vision has evolved, we get an inkling of the power of a good idea - not just an idea that turned out well - an idea based on something worthwhile, wholesome, something good. It took more than one person to bring DisneyLand and Walt Disney World to reality, but it took just one man to feel the inspiration, dream the dream, and inspire others to see it materialize.
I think often of another man who has made a significant contribution in the last few years - Christopher Reeve. Ironically, his main contribution did not come from his portrayal of Superman or any of his other starring roles as a movie star. Christopher Reeve impacted our world when he was unable to do anything for himself, not even breath without help.
It is the spirit, the attitude, the determination of this man who does not give up on life in the face of tribulation which would put most any one of us out. Whenever I feel a health complaint coming on, I think of this man and realize how much he would give to swap bodies with me.
These two men, Walt Disney and Christopher Reeve, come from opposite spectrums of what life offers. One became synonymous with fun and fantasy; the other with tragedy and reality. Individually, they were cut from the same cloth, a belief in the ultimate goodness of life and a commitment to make it better. Each has inspired us to appreciate the wonder of every moment of life and what we can do with that moment.
There are many men and women who offer inspiration, from the Dalai Lama to Oprah Winfrey. There are people all over the world who show us what it is possible - to do, to become - in one lifetime. Whether we are financially one of the poorest or the newest billionaire does not seem to matter in terms of making an impact.
We all encounter people who are a breed apart, who are making a difference in our own sphere. Dr. Juan Montero, who founded Chesapeake Care Free Clinic, comes to mind. For ten years now the energy of this one kind-hearted man and his selfless wife Mary has fueled the busiest people in the area to bring medical care to the working poor throughout Hampton Roads.
Every one of us can name special souls who have reached out with love to some group or some one, or to us personally, and made a real difference.
When I think of all these extraordinary people I remember that each is just one person like you and me, who decided to follow a dream. We can do that also. Wow.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 38 years.
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