I have ridden on a few roller coasters in my life, and I am not embarrassed to admit that I was scared to death every single time. I am obviously not a thrill seeker. In fact, each time I had to ask my friends to stand guard over me while we were waiting to board, just to make sure I didn’t chicken out at the last minute. I didn’t want to be a coward, and I figured it was a rite of passage to ride a roller coaster and live to tell the tale.
I was particularly proud of myself for riding on the American Eagle in Chicago shortly after its debut in 1981, when it was the tallest, longest and fastest racing coaster in the world. I was so scared, I thought I would die of a heart attack! Obviously, I didn’t. Since I was a teenager, my ticker was evidently strong enough to survive the fright.
There is no way I would get on a coaster nowadays, so I’m glad I did it when I was young. I’m glad because it gave me a vivid, experiential picture of what life is like. Like a roller coaster, life has its ups and downs. It has its twists and turns. It has the expected and the unexpected. Yet, it isn’t just about the events of our life, it is also about our emotions.
When we are working toward a goal, we can become impatient when it feels like it is going to take forever to climb to the height we envisioned for ourselves. While we are enjoying the fun part of the ride we want it to last forever, but we know that it can’t. Other times, we are frightened by what looms ahead of us, or by what is happening to us right now. It can even be exciting and scary at the same time!
Then, there are those times when we feel neither thrilled nor frightened. There are times when we sit there waiting for some movement in our life – waiting for something to happen. Often, those can be the most difficult times.
Yes, life is like a roller coaster. Maybe it isn’t as scary as the American Eagle, but the ride certainly lasts longer. It is the ride of our life! The best we can do is to buckle up, trust those who laid the tracks, scream once in a while if we feel like it, and try to enjoy ourselves!