Over Labor Day weekend my family took a road trip over to Idaho to go to Silverwood Park, a big amusement and water park near Sand Point.
The talk of the trip was of the newest, scariest roller coasters they had opened up on Roller Coaster Alley with names like : Timber Terror, Panic Plunge, Tremors, and Aftershock. Hmmmm….sounded a lot like therapy to me! I decided I would face my scary thoughts and fears and agreed to go on ONE ride with the family. It would be my first roller coaster ever. Yes, you read me right…my FIRST. I cannot recall EVER being on a roller coaster ride. Perhaps it is my brains way of forgetting trauma? No, I think not. We were a camping/hiking family, not an amusement park family when I was a child. Even as an adult, I have never been one to want to ride a roller coaster. Throw in my fear of heights and a bit of claustrophobia to boot, and there is no motivation to jump on in – especially when the names of the rides tell my brain that I am going to totally freak out!
So, that being said, I was challenged to fulfill my promise to the ever-present family. We chose Tremors. The line was a mile long. Was it the universes' way of making sure I had plenty of time to process the "what if's" going through my brain? Turns out those thoughts didn't transpire because my youngest needed to be entertained in the long line. So, it came to be that the "what ifs" were trumped by the whining and constant entertaining of a child who was hot, bored, and tired. And this was for the first ride of the day!
We finally made it up to the platform, where the line moved into locked gates. An image of cattle going to the slaughterhouse briefly entered my mind. My husband immediately ushered us to the gates on the very end of the roller coaster to wait for the next ride. If I had been thinking like my father the mathematician I would have been madly calculating velocity and speed. Unfortunately, I was thinking like the cow. "You want me to move here…..duuuh, okay." So, as it were, our family of five ended up on the last three cars of the roller coaster. My oldest son in the last car, Mark and my youngest in the next, then my daughter and I in the third car to the end. Mark had us pose for this picture as we climbed up the first hill:
We look excited don't we? Well, I am smart enough to know about Newtons theory of gravity, and we were going up. I mean REALLY up. So far up I could spot the truck across the highway in the parking lot. Then I felt this strange pull….yes, the cars at the front of the roller coaster were picking up speed. Within 20 seconds the force of the front of the coaster caught up with us. Had I known the amount of whiplash I was about to experience I would have braced my neck! We picked up speed and felt the bottom fall out below us. It didn't take long for my daughter to start screaming and for me to reconsider my sanity. So, there we went, up and down and around and around at the speed of lightening. I closed my eyes and just felt all the sensations. Unfortunately, five minutes on the roller coaster was seeming to deactivate five years of chiropractic care. As I struggled to enjoy it I continued to hear my son say from behind as he went on the ups: " I LIKE this part" and as the coaster started moving down: "I DON'T LIKE THIS PART!"
As it were, I am proud to say I faced my fears. I will check the warning signs next time about "people with neck or back problems should be advised NOT to ride this ride." But I also found another tidbit of wisdom on the ride: we really can control our thoughts on the big ole' roller coaster of life. Much like the ride, we can think "UP" or we can bring ourselves "DOWN" spinning out of control. Regardless, we don't have much choice bit to ride the ride, buckle in and brace ourselves.
Why not enjoy it?
by Jen Slayden