Goose bumps

hedgieThe grunting and snuffling of a foraging hedgehog should be offensive and repugnant. Instead, it is strangely endearing. If you have never held a hedgehog or watched one run around on its stubby little legs, find an opportunity to do so. It is almost sure to sprinkle pure joy into an otherwise ordinary day.

As disappointing as this next fact may be to all the hedgehog lovers across the globe, this story does not focus on the cuteness factor associated with these nocturnal rodents and their pig-like snouts. It’s about their quills and what they can teach us about our innermost desires and life purpose.

That’s right, I just made a connection between the body part of an exotic rodent and the meaning of life. Stick with me. And yes, that pun was intended 😉

Like other mammals, hedgehogs get goose bumps. Whenever they feel threatened, quills are brought to full attention. In an effort to make themselves look larger and scare away predators, this self-defense mechanism serves as a reflexive survival instinct.

As humans, we also experience the wonder of goose bumps. When we are captivated by intense feelings of awe, admiration, or pleasure, goose bumps wash across our skin like an ocean wave tickles the shore with its foamy fingers.

At some point in our lives, we have each been touched by these moments of intensity. As quickly as they materialize, they withdraw back to the depths from whence they came and depart from our awareness. But, in that split second when they occupy our presence, they leave us with the most intense feeling of euphoria. I have a fanciful notion that goose bumps are the physical manifestation of a soul’s smile.

There are a few scenarios, without fail, that stir the emotional cauldron in the depths of my being and allow my soul to reveal itself through these virtual smiles. The stage is set around the World Showcase at Epcot. The time is 9:00 pm. As the frequency of a beating drum rises in a crescendo, my heart follows suit in anticipation of the magic that follows. I have been here numerous times before, both physically and emotionally. Although I know every little nuance of tonight’s performance, I welcome its energy with gratitude as the pyrotechnics soar across the sky, reflecting off the water in the lagoon. My soul is at home.

As the story continues and the final pages of this evening’s rendition are spoken through lasers, fireworks, and music, the globe at the center of the lagoon peels open to reveal a flame at its core. The words to this enchanting song echo from the pavilion of each country represented around the World Showcase.

With the stillness of the night
there comes a time to understand
to reach out and touch tomorrow
take the future in our hand

 We can see a new horizon
built on all that we have done
and our dreams begin another
thousand circles ’round the sun 

We go on
to the joy and through the tears
We go on
to discover new frontiers
Moving on
with the current of the years
We go on
moving forward, now as one
Moving on
with a spirit born to run
Ever on
with each rising sun 

To a new day
We go on 

We go on

We go on. With those three words, goose bumps radiate across every inch of my physical, mental, and spiritual being. As the physical remnants of this sensation recede, I step back from a surreal world and into the present. In that brief moment, however, I became aware of everything around me. I am reminded that we all share a common bond, a common story that we continue to write with each passing moment of our existence. We are all interconnected and have the power to transform this world. Together.

Next time the universe bestows this mystical feeling upon you through whatever makes you come alive, stop and notice it. Become aware of everything around you. It is your soul’s way of smiling from within you and making itself visible through your physical being.

The era we are living in today is a dream of coming true. ~Walt Disney

Allow your soul to speak. Follow it with fervor. It is in those fleeting moments that you uncover the true meaning of your life.

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Sunday morning began as usual. A freshly brewed pot of coffee with two cups consumed in my favorite 101 Dalmatians coffee mug. I previously had no idea why this was my favorite mug. I am not a dog fanatic or anything. Then I realized, it’s Disney and it all made sense.

As I sat at the computer checking my e-mail, an impromptu thought (aren’t those always the best) came to mind. I should take my son over to Disney today. We didn’t have anything planned and I knew my wife was itching to get out alone for some quiet time. It took less than 2 nanoseconds for approval of my idea. It’s amazing how quickly one said boy can get dressed when there is some external motivation 😉

In looking at the weather radar, we decided to independently ignore it. Imagine a state map of Florida. Now, imagine dipping your hand in red, green, yellow, and pink paint. Go ahead, splatter it all over that map. Yep, that was about what it looked like. But, we were going to Disney. It doesn’t rain at Disney. It’s under the dome of happiness where it’s always sunny and bright.

Apparently, that dome had recently been compromised. There was enough dihydrogen monoxide (think about it, you’ll get it) falling from the sky to fill Bay Lake in the Seven Seas Lagoon. After riding on Thunder Mountain Railroad three times in a row, the Splash Mountain powers that be must have figured that we had not yet reached our daily quota of water absorption in our clothes. We got soaked. The crazy thing is that given the right attitude, it didn’t make a bit of difference. Choose to laugh and enjoy the moment and amazing things will happen.

Everybody’s got a laughin’ place – trouble is most folks won’t take the time to go look for it. ~Splash Mountain

So, as unstated plans would have it, we ended the evening at Epcot. I always find my way to Epcot when given the opportunity. I think there is some unseen force that draws me toward the mystery and charm inside its entrance.

Illuminations was spectacular. Again. My son summed it up completely at the end of the show when he stated “That will just never get old.” I am not embarrassed to say that I literally get a chill down my spine and tear in my eye every single time I watch it. I allow myself to become immersed in the presentation.

For whatever reason, as we were walking out of the park after the show, I took notice of others who had just seen that same show. I saw reactions of all flavors. There were those ho-hum another fireworks show now where’s the exit types. There were the distracted parents trying to reign in the natural excitement of their children at Disney while focusing on the next item of the family agenda.

Then, there were the people who were traveling in the same boat as my son and I. Couples embraced. Indefinitely. Families were holding hands. Not the holding of hands for the sake of not getting lost. Rather, holding hands to signify that a special moment had just been shared together as a family. It made me think.

We all do things every day. Someone helped design that entire show. Someone helped coordinate and wire up all the fireworks earlier in the day. Someone prepared the music. Sometimes the things that we do don’t seem like much. They become habitual. They are things that we have gotten used to doing on a daily basis. But, they may be of utmost importance without even knowing it.

Epcot - IlluminationsYou have an opportunity to touch a person’s life on a daily basis in ways that you may not even realize. When you do something, do it with pride. Do it completely. Do it with everything that you have inside you. You may just create a lasting moment for an individual, a couple, or a family that will never be forgotten.

Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. ~Buddha

Be a flame and illuminate the world around you.