Walt Disney once shared that “over-due books were the chief reason for my usually depleted bank account.” As an author I love that quote because it means that Walt Disney was a man who liked to read. History backs that up…Walt was a man who was always learning, trying new things, pushing his own limits and challenging others to do the same. People who do that, people who lead that way, tend to be people who read and allow their imaginations to explode…such is the stuff of dreamers I suppose.
I was interested in the context of that quote so I did some digging. I found the source, the information that I tracked down came from the legendary Jim Korkis in one of his articles on MousePlanet.com (One of my favorite websites)
Korkis sources it from a August 1937 letter from Walt to Irene Gentry of the Kansas City Library in Missouri. The letter reads as follows…
“Dear Miss Gentry,
“Thank you for your letter of August 11. It gives me pleasure to tell you how highly I regard the services offered by the Public Libraries and especially that of the Kansas City Library.
“All during the early years of my youth, and a long time before I had given a career any thought, the Public Library has always held a tremendous interest for me. Needless to say, any book that offered information on drawing was likely to be found listed on my card, and over-due books were the chief reason for my usually depleted bank account.
“Later, in Kansas City, when I became seriously interested in cartooning, I gained my first information on animation from a book written by H.C. Lutz (actually it was E.C. Lutz) which I procured from the Kansas City Public Library. I feel the Public Library has been a very definite help to me all through my career.
“While we have established a sizeable library of our own, nevertheless we are constantly calling upon the local Public Library to supplement our needs from its vast resources.
“Mickey joins me in sending greetings to you and all the members of the American Library Association.
“Sincerely yours, Walt Disney”
I love the letter because in it you get a glimpse of Walt, his heart, and his attitude.
The letter expresses his appreciation for being allowed to discover the resources he needed that helped to influence him in his formative years. As the newest star in Hollywood at the time of this letter, what you don’t see is a man who is blinded by the brightness of his own star.
There is a life lesson for all of us…remember where you have come from and remember to thank the people that have gotten you where you are.
Walt does just that in this letter.
I also like the fact that Walt shows us his desire and how much he values the need for lifelong learning in the letter when he applauds the library and says he continues to use it.
The next life lesson for all of us is strong there as well...we all are on a lifetime journey of learning. We never know enough, there is always more to dream, see, and discover…when you quit learning, you are dying…you just don’t realize it.
Like Walt, we should all be on a quest to learn and discover more.
You never know how the experiences of this day, maybe a very normal day, might be the experiences you are impacted by and will remember the rest of your life. Just make sure as you move through this day you are not so consumed with yourself or blinded by your own self perceived brightness that you miss what is waiting for you to find in the here and now.
Make the day count, make it matter…make a difference.