I am barely back from a vacation, full of thoughts to share about life, writing, and the grand sweep of history (the occurrence of such thoughts being both a major upside and the occasional downside of taking time off). I spent last week in the largest faux-reality complex in the world, a place built upon stories you almost surely know by heart. I am returned home with a firm conviction: if you really want to make a difference in the world, it probably helps to be nuts. Walt Disney was a master storyteller, an amazing animator, and an innovator. You may love or loathe what Walt hath wrought, but there's no denying that he made a deep mark upon the world. His creations are so tightly woven into western culture, and increasingly eastern culture, that his work (and the modern day descendants of his work) has touched nearly every living person.
Walt was also utterly nuts. Stark. Raving. Nuts.
Walt had to be more than a little loopy--otherwise, he wouldn't have dreamed so big while paying attention to such small details. Without both of those elements he never would have succeeded like he did, and if he hadn't succeeded like he did I wouldn't have paid a huge corporation to entertain my family for a week.
As I learned from a tour guide, Walt was the kind of guy who just assumed that folks would love having dinner in the middle of a live bird show. As I also learned, he was the sort of guy who, when presented with the incredibly more hygienic and predictable robot version of the bird show insisted that the entire damn thing be torn down and re-built so that the robot-birds breathed.
Walt had a few advantages that you and I may not: he was profoundly talented, no-doubt a little lucky, and had a partner that simultaneously tempered and enabled his wilder schemes. I can't help but wonder, though, if Walt didn't develop the talent, and find the luck, and maybe even force his brother to become a guiding light by being more than a little bit nuts.