Whew, what a ride!
What ride has the longest lines at an amusement park?
It’s the roller coaster in all it’s manifestations.
It’s doggone exhilarating, that’s why.
And it’s not for the faint of heart.
You lurch forward in the cart your seated in, tightly secured by a safety strap, up an initial incline to the highest point of the ride. There, at the apex, it hesitates for a moment, lurches, and ponders what to do.
You’re at the coaster’s mercy – and you know it. There’s no other choice. There is no going back. Your senses are enlivened as you wait in that suspended limbo between the up and the down.
The coaster then plunges down an impossibly steep decline, accelerating toward the bone jarring twists and turns that await. Suddenly an electrifying surge of adrenaline courses through your nervous system and escapes through your scream.
For the two minute duration of the ride, your brain has become a cacophony of perception; mixed with excitement and dread, exhilaration and horror, longing and avoidance, love and hate.
You stagger out of the cart, down the exit ramp, and out again into the alluring lights of the park. For as short a duration as the ride really was, you’ve yet to find an experience that quite matches it.
Welcome to the ride of your life.
In a scene from the movie, “Parenthood”, the main character Gil is complaining to his wife about his swiftly changing life and its irritating complications. He just wants it to calm down. Grandma, who is primarily dismissed as crazy, old, and irrelevant, wanders in on the conversation.
“You know”, she says, “when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.”
“Oh?” Gil replies, apathetically.
“Up, down, up, down,” Grandma continues, “Oh, what a ride!”
Gil patiently and politely dismisses her story.
“I always wanted to go again.” she persists. “You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.”
She walks out of the room, leaving a residue of wisdom on experiences that lingers for the rest of the movie.
Life, with its relentless and often dangerous twists and turns of change, is a ride that requires patience, boldness and fortitude to truly experience the adventure that it really is.
Those who think they don’t have what it takes and prefer to avoid it altogether, just stay on the merry-go-round…