Monday, July 24, 2017

Riding the Roller Coaster of Life



One of my earliest recollections of going to an amusement park was as a camper at Camp Echo Lark.  Each summer, we would venture out from Poyntelle, Pa to Ghost Town Amusement Park in Moosic, Pa.  There was one ride that I used to go on over and over again – the roller coaster.  It is still one of my favorite amusement park rides:

  • The tick, tick, tick sound as you slowly climb the first hill with the anticipation of reaching the crest,
  • The sudden thrill of the first drop where you feel like you could lift off the seat and into the air,
  • The quick change of direction as you round the first bend, and,
  • The “I cannot believe we are finished” feeling when you pull back into the station. 

Today, there are more varieties than that rickety old wooden one – the quick start, the loops, and the corkscrews.  You no longer have to sit in a “car”, but can have your feet dangle or be in a position like you are flying.  However, it is still the same – you still have the speed at which you move, the ups and downs of the hills and you still end up back where you started!

There comes a time where we need to start moving on, whether it is “picking up the pieces”, focusing on the next goal or some further horizon.  While mass media would have us believe that all good things come to those that wait, the truth is, we need to put ourselves out there, gather the right skills and maintain an open eye so that when opportunity crosses our path, we can take it. We can step out of the stream of our ongoing life to catch our breath, recharge our batteries or reevaluate our lives; but inevitably, we have to be a part of the larger world to engage in life.

Some thought leaders say that we are a reflection of the last five people that week hung out with or that the last few books that we read impact our choices.  It makes sense, as these are the latest things that we have in our minds, the last bits of stimulation and the newest points that we want to emulate.  Basically, we tend to reflect the environment we have surrounded ourselves in.  The last few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster and it would be easy to sit in a dark room, hang my head and ponder (question?) the meaning of life.  Fortunately, I do not have time for this.  Aside from supporting family, I have to think about Bec moving off campus next year, continue to quietly provide encouragement in Gab’s search for a job and spend time with Debbie.  Not to sound like my life is a clich√©, but we have things to do, places to go and people to see.  In light of these things, the small amount of time to sit in the corner and reflect, while important and healthy, cannot be the sum total of all of my future actions. 

I know that life is not some thrill ride, yet there are many thrills as we ride through life.  Almost all aspects of life have high points and low points.  Sometimes the peaks are very high and sometimes the valleys are very low.  Life is full of many different things: full of successes and failures; full of happiness and sadness; full of positive experience and negative experiences; full of good times and bad times; life and death.  And, because of the valleys in our lives, we get to appreciate the peaks that much more.  Like the roller coaster, there are times where we seem to end up back where we started.  I, for one, like back in Ghost Town, am ready to stay on that `coaster for the next go around, looking forward towards that first hill, and enjoying the thrill of the ride for as long as I am here.