Growing up, my best friends were a pack of seven funny-looking, very short men. My role model was a peasant-turned-princess whose nose was forever in a book; my ultimate confident was a cricket with a strong sense of morals. “Hakuna Matata” was my life philosophy, long before I understood the meaning of the term philosophy. I grew up immersed in the world of Disney, in the world of wise cracking animals and happy endings. To me, Disney movies were beyond the hour and a half of laughs and giggles they so effortlessly provided. Disney movies offered a chance to break away from my normal life and indulge in adventures as perilous as fighting the dreaded Captain Hook and as exciting as attending a midnight ball. More importantly, Disney movies instilled a sense of values and principles in me without my realizing. And now, as I am moving farther away from my childhood and into the scary life of adulthood, I find myself longing to rejoin my animated friends in their magical world.
I saw my first Disney movie when I was two and a half. All sense and logic suggests that this was long before my realm of conscious memory had developed, and yet I can vividly remember going to the theatre with my best friend and being awe-struck at the wonder of Aladdin and his magic carpet. That was it; the seed had been planted. From then on, I devoured Disney movies as if there were no tomorrow. I watched them time and time again, until I could recite near every line along with the characters. When naptime rolled around, I would beg and plead to be allowed to watch a Disney movie until I drifted off to dreamland, accompanied by whichever cartoon friend I had chosen to visit. While playing pretend, I shunned the popular trend of acting as the Spice Girls and instead assumed the persona of Ariel or Jasmine.
But Disney wasn’t just a creative outlet for me, nor was it simply a meaningless source of entertainment. I learned more from Disney movies than from any other resource during my childhood. Simba taught me the courage to face reality, even if it meant combating your evil yet beloved uncle. Robin Hood introduced me to the rewards of philanthropy, albeit through a slightly criminal manner. Tarzan opened my eyes to the boundary-crossing potential of the term “family”. I watched countless acts of good conquering evil and I truly believe that profoundly affected my developing personality.
These days, when I am faced with mountains of schoolwork and the stress of teenage life, I crave those characters and stories that shaped my childhood. And on the few occasions when I allow myself to curl up on the couch and pop in an old Disney film, I find it more rewarding than I can describe. For that hour and a half I am transported back into the world of my childhood, an enchanting place brimming with simple pleasures, where I can partake in endless magical adventures and embrace the bare necessities of life. And that, in a nutshell, is the power of Disney.
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