To celebrate the birth of a dear friend of mine, a few friends and I traveled to Six Flags over New Jersey. 1. Its always wildly exciting, escaping from the city. You can see trees, non city people, happy people… it’ a beautiful treat. 2. Going to what is called an “amusement park” is wildly exciting for a group of 20 something year olds who are constantly stressed and trying to make a better life for themselves. As I child, I always seemed to live near an amusement park and my family would go multiple times a year. I can specifically recall my times at Busch Gardens, riding every ride, over and over again, until my parents finally said, “you need to take a break or you’re gonna get sick and want to go home.” I headed that warning because I didn’t want anything to stand between me and my love of The Alpengeist.
Arriving at Six Flags with my friends, I was filled with a nostalgic excitement. The feeling that this day will last for what seems like an eternity and the amount of fun you will have is incapable of being measured on any human-made scale. And the game has been flipped, I’m an adult… I can drink. It was not on the top of my to-do list, but just realizing this possibility made me feel more prepared to conquer this park. As soon as we entered, we began walking towards Super Man and decided we’d give it a try. It’s early Spring in the North East, so this park is not full… at all. The lines for every ride are very, very short compared to the insanity that exists in the summer months. Once we get in line, it slowly starts to sink in… I haven’t been to an amusement park in 10 years…. 10 years…. 10 years? “That’s okay, you’re a professional, you got this. Think of all the experience you have,” I thought to myself. But, then I remembered a recurring theme of my adulthood dream; I’m often able to fly or float in my dreams and sometimes the power gets the better of my and continues me in a direction, even though my intention is to stop. Usually this results in me going higher than intended and of course once I get higher than I would typically feel comfortable going, I’m filled with anxiety about how I’m going to get back to the ground…. and just as I’m sure you’ve guessed, my power then releases me and I fall straight to the ground, never injuring myself, but always feeling that horrid gut wrenching plunge.
so as I sit in line for Super Man, I think to myself, “Just don’t do it. Get out of the line. Make up an excuse. Say you’re not feeling well.” It wouldn’t have been a complete lie as “well” was not a feeling I was experiencing. But I stayed, even after my inner voice started preparing me for death by roller coaster. I told myself, “well, then I guess I’ll die at an amusement park.” So, I got on the ride, screaming from the time I was buckled into the seat. I can’t begin to describe the experience, because there are no words and the experience lasts about 60 seconds… so, I don’t even know what happened. I know when I got off the ride my eyes were watering and my hands were shaking. I can tell you the thought that remained after experiencing the ride, “What happened to me?”
How did I get to be this way? Why am I so afraid of getting on a roller coaster. I thought of Tim Storey’s talks, perhaps life knocked the shout out of me. I felt like a shell of a person hiding behind adulthood, someone who would be too afraid to jump into a lake, too afraid to go hiking, too afraid to scream at the top of my lungs. How did this happen? Better yet, how did I not notice it was happening? I don’t want this life. It seems so small, right? Person fears riding roller coaster, but it’s more than that. It’s fear of stepping out of comfort zone, fear of seeing what could be, settling for the known…..NOOOOOOOOOO! After that, I was set on getting on every ride. I don’t want to be afraid. I feel like there is an invisible shell I’m trapped in, not the shell everyone talks about; “you finally came out of your shell, you used to be so shy.” No, there’s another shell, that no one knows is there but me. You see my inner vision of myself is this, couldn’t give a fuck, hard working, in touch with self, open, caring, willing to try anything twenty times, passion seeking brave human being. And everyday I let life and myself make me smaller and smaller. But, I’m not small, I’m big, I’m huge. And that is what this coaster experience has reminded me. Don’t let the world or even you, shrink you! Climb those poles and grab all six of them damn flags!