Hidden Mickeys

joe —  Thu 27-May-10

If you thought that a Hidden Mickey was something they used in old spy movies from the 60’s then you probably haven’t been to the Magic Kingdom with young ones before. Better yet, if you aren’t familiar with the sport of Spotting the Hidden Mickeys you will no longer be able to walk through a Disney attraction with such beautifully ignorant bliss.

Hidden MickeyA partial or complete impression of Mickey Mouse placed by the Imagineers and artists to blend into the designs of Disney attractions, hotels, restaurants, and other areas.

The task of Spotting Hidden Mickeys can be very addictive – there are actually several books written on the topic. There’s a reason it becomes addictive. When you spot a Hidden Mickey you feel part of the inside secret that someone setup for only a select few to discover. You appreciate the conscious effort that someone else did for your amusement. You’ve personified a flat, two dimensional object into clever thinking and imagination. You will never find them all as they appear to be infinite in number, but each one you discover makes you smile and feel good. The more obscure they are the better you feel.

Liberty Square Hidden Mickey.jpgHidden Mickeys exist in real life as well. Not literally Mickeys, but little symbols of another person’s thoughtfulness, love or caring that are hidden and often not noticed. I love looking for Hidden Mickeys in everyday life. Some of them are the obvious desktop picture or refrigerator art drawn by Billy in 2nd grade, but the best ones are the more subtle ones, which like Hidden Mickeys appear to be infinite in number once you start thinking about them.

I was recently on a week long business trip abroad. Rarely able to enjoy travel without my family, being in such a beautiful country as Scotland made it even more difficult. As the mundane task of unpacking my suitcase began I noticed four neatly folded dress shirts. Being blessed with the gene that allows me to make every shirt I fold look like a Picasso portrait means that these shirts were the result of the labor of my best friend and wife, Beth.

I’ll not forget the feeling that came over me as I unfolded each one and placed it on a hanger. I had images of

  • The moment she stopped what she was doing the night before to apply her black-belt origami skills to make them fit nicely into the suitcase.
  • The last time I wore that shirt and she rushed downstairs to iron it because there wasn’t time to take it to the cleaners.
  • All of the countless trips she has made to the dry cleaner.
  • How she tricked me into going shopping for these shirts by telling me we were going to look for jerseys.
  • The look in her eye when I put on my now favorite shirt. I can’t tell you what she said, but it’s the reason it’s now called my favorite shirt.

The folded shirts were Hidden Mickeys. They were only folded shirts, but the thought of what it took to get these lifeless objects to the location and state they were was priceless. Every Disney World Hidden Mickey has a story of how one Imagineer decided to thoughtfully place the secret where he did – so do the everyday Hidden Mickeys.

The key to getting the benefit of these hidden gems, one where you get little daily surprises that make you smile is that you have to put the Red Honda Theory to work for you and start to look for them – they are everywhere, you just haven’t noticed.

You can start a deliberate practice of spotting Hidden Mickeys right where you are now. Look around you and find an object. Now, ask these two questions:

How did this item get to where it is?
How did this item come to be?

Starfish Gift.jpgTaking a look around where I am sitting right now I see a pewter starfish. This starfish sits where it does because it is a constant reminder of the kindness and love of three former co-workers and constantly reminds me of the effect random acts of kindness can have on the world. This item was given to me simply because they saw it in a shop one day at lunch and thought of me. It is an incredible inspiration on those days when I simply find myself in the 29th rewrite of the next week’s column. Terri, Karen and Cindy – u rock! (BTW – I just recently had another co-worker do the same thing at my new job. As I look on my desk at work I will never forget the incredible thought and special wrapping paper, Betsy).

Window.jpgOK – that one was a bit easy – let’s try something harder. I am looking out a very cool window with a gorgeous view of the wooded back yard. It is there because my wife completely designed this new addition on to the house and chose those windows. I distinctly remember the incredible hours she put in researching glass ensuring that we got the most energy efficient, UV shading, easily cleaned windows that were as inexpensive as possible from a dealer that had good references. Only those that have gone through this process can appreciate the herculean effort required. When Beth looks out the window she sees beautiful trees. When I look out I see my wife’s amazing dedication and tenacity.

I like my view better.

Today’s Question
From where you are this very moment, find one Hidden Mickey. What do you see?