I’ve only been to Paris once, but there was just something fascinating, charming, and magical about the city to me, something that you couldn’t put into words, but had to actually experience to know.
However, the people walking down the tree and fountain-lined street in the photo above have no idea what it’s like to walk down a street in Paris. Because they’re not in Paris. They’re in Disney World.
And although I absolutely love Disney World and I love the France area in Epcot, it is NOTHING like actually being in France. Not to say it isn’t enjoyable, but it is not a substitute for the real experience. The best manufactured experience Disney has to offer doesn’t even come close to the real experience of looking out of the Eiffel Tower, of hearing a boys choir reverberate within the centuries old stone of Notre Dame, of taking in all the colors and sounds and smells of a Parisian market, of seeing the actual Mona Lisa in the Lourve, or of sitting on the steps of the Sacre-Coeur looking down on the City of Lights.
And I know you’re thinking, “John, no one is going to confuse a little section of an amusement park with all the grandeur of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.” Maybe not. But how often do we end up confusing other manufactured experiences for the real thing? We are so used to fast food and frozen food we forget the richness of a home cooked meal. We’re so used to riding around everywhere that we forget the simple pleasure of walking. We facebook and text and snapchat and we forget how much richer and more satisfying a simple, unhurried conversation with a friend over coffee is.
Today, don’t let all the manufactured experiences available to you crowd out the opportunity to have a real experience. Eat some real food, even if it’s a single piece of fruit. If you can, take a slow-paced walk. Have a real conversation with someone you care about, or with a complete stranger, with no other objective than to listen to who they are. I guarantee you it will beat anything that Disney could ever offer.