I can easily say that ‘Disney’ is one of the best things in my life. I cannot imagine a world void of the influence of Walt Disney: a world with no Mickey Mouse; no example of eternal optimism and the importance of a good attitude when I was a child; no Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Mary Poppins or Sleeping Beauty by which to learn to dream big dreams; no Disneyland or Walt Disney World at which to share precious and lifelong memories with my family. I believe with all my heart that Walt Disney was born with a purpose and he fulfilled that purpose to the very best of his ability; and I, like so many others, am very thankful for his life.
Wouldn’t life be wonderful if it could just be “all Disney, all the time”? Wanting a better world is something I totally understand and to which I closely relate. Still – no matter how badly we want things to be that way (and, believe me I do) the fact is that life has a way of getting us down if we allow it. I have always found that the quickest way to feel better is to do something kind for someone else. Walt was just like all of us. He had great days when everything was fantastic and he had terribly heartbreaking days in his life as well.
Just like us, Walt sometimes needed a little reminder of what is important. Richard Sherman has said that during the last year or two of Walt’s life, he would invite the Sherman brothers to his office after work on Fridays. Together, they would talk about things that were going on at the Studio; and then, after a while, he’d say ‘Play it.’ Richard knew exactly what song he meant. The song was “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins and here are the lyrics.
Early each day to the steps of Saint Paul’s
The little old bird woman comes.
In her own special way to the people she calls,
“Come, buy my bags full of crumbs.
Come feed the little birds, show them you care
And you’ll be glad if you do.
Their young ones are hungry,
Their nests are so bare;
All it takes is tuppence from you.”
Feed the birds, tuppence a bag,
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag.
“Feed the birds,” that’s what she cries,
While overhead, her birds fill the skies.
All around the cathedral the saints and apostles
Look down as she sells her wares.
Although you can’t see it, you know they are smiling
Each time someone shows that he cares.
Though her words are simple and few,
Listen, listen, she’s calling to you:
“Feed the birds, tuppence a bag,
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag.”
The song speaks of an old beggar woman who sits on the steps of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, selling bags of breadcrumbs to passersby for tuppence a bag, so they can feed the many pigeons who surround the old woman. The song isn’t about feeding pigeons at all, but about how little it costs to be kind and to show love to others. My favorite part of the song is, “All around the cathedral the saints and apostles look down as she sells her wares. Although you can’t see it, you know they are smiling, each time someone shows that he cares.”
Robert Sherman has said it was the first song written about the merits of giving charity. It was a subtle thing but Walt understood exactly what the song meant, because that’s what he was all about. He loved that song. Walt would stare out of the North window in his office as they played it and then he would say, “Yep. That’s what it’s all about.”
Yes, indeed, Mr. Disney — that IS what it’s all about!