When I was four or five I remember visiting an amusement park with my grandparents. I rode a number of the rides in the kiddie section. Feeling adventurous, I begged my grandmother to let me ride the roller coaster. Very reluctantly she let me ride the roller coaster in the kiddie section. As the ride attendant was getting everyone settled in, I can recall feeling very brave and grown-up.
Suddenly it was time to start the ride. I was secured and watching my grandparents as things started to move. Suddenly, as I realized I was totally out of control, I became terrified. I didn’t raise my arms and shout with excitement. As I remember it, I cried, begging to get off the ride. As I recall, I did not stop crying until the little roller coaster made its two times around the track, and the ride ended.
I am pretty certain I never rode that particular ride again. Although I have ridden a number of roller coasters over the years, none have had quite the impact on me as that first one. There are many similarities to that and subsequent rides as to life in general. I tend to approach all rides with a wide range of emotions. Depending on whether the ride is familiar or new to me, my emotions may range from eager anticipation to real anxiety bordering on fear.
I have not ridden a roller coaster for several years now. One of the last times was when the adults in our group were riding a ride for which our two grandchildren were too young. I took them on another ride. No sooner had the ride started than our grandchildren started crying. At that moment it became clear to me that I had misjudged this ride and its effect on the young children I was trying to keep entertained. All three of us could not wait until that ride ended.
Life is often something we find ourselves experiencing, with very little idea of how we arrived at the place we find ourselves. We are secured in a position where we experience being out of control, with no real idea of where things are going. Life keeps going faster and faster. We can’t get off. Sometimes we hold our arms up and shout with wild excitement. Sometimes we just hold on with our eyes closed, trying to hang on until the ride is over.
Schooling could be an example of some of the segments of the ride that makes up our life. While we get to make more and more choices as we journey through school, it does go faster and faster, and at times we sense being out of control. We just hang on till the end.
Relationships and work environments can follow the same pattern. How often have we entered a new relationship or a new job without a clear idea of what was ahead? In both jobs and relationships, we can experience periods of being out of control. We can also experience things going faster and faster. Like on a ride, sometimes we wave our arms in the air and shout with excitement while at other times we just hang on so as not to fall off.
As we move forward, it might be interesting to look at how many times in our lives we experience being on a ride. The things that change involve how out of control we feel, how fast the ride goes, and how comfortable we feel about what we are experiencing.
We are also on these ride experiences with others. We may be able to help fellow riders by sharing our riding experiences with them. Whose life experience can you help make more enjoyable?