It’s just a ride. An almighty, all-encompassing, all-consuming ride. And I am rubbish at white-knuckle rides. I’m that one slightly bored on the cup and saucer spinning thing because I’m too scared to go on the roller coaster that does more than 3 loops. Seriously. I can tell you which food stalls are great at an amusement park more accurately than I can for the rides. I look at people on water slides in complete awe, as they drop into water a minute before their stomachs. I wonder at people on the pirate ships screaming with glee as they tip upside down, 10 feet above solid unforgiving concrete. I am the one taking the photos.
And yet, I have learnt a really important exception to this. I can go on any kind of roller coaster in the pitch black. I did originally put this down to some extraordinary quirk, nay perversity, of my brain. But now it makes sense. Take any kind of possible expectation away from me and I surrender to the ride. Because I have no choice. I accept the rush of the experience without my brain acting like a mental handbrake. My mind can’t tell me what to be scared of before I get there. It can’t sabotage me. It can’t tell me to hold in tighter or to feel worse in anticipation. I have to live purely in the moment and trust that it is meant to be fun. And guess what? I would go on every roller coaster if I were in the dark for all of them.
What does that tell me? That my mind can be my best friend but my worst playground. It can make life about as fun as jumping off the roundabout without letting go because it was too terrifying to (yes, I know, it’s a terrible truth to admit but I’ve done it…don’t ask). If only sometimes it would just get out of my way, I would enjoy the loops, the twists and turns and the gut-wrenching brakes. If only it would stop telling me which bits I’ll love and which bits will make me feel ill, I would make up my mind in that split second, then move onwards with the flow to the next second.
Sometimes it doesn’t serve to always stare so far down the track. Sometimes your mind tells you you’re running straight for impending doom when it’s just a kink in your path. Sometimes the run downhill into seeming oblivion, in actual fact, serves only to send you on a beautiful uphill trajectory to glee. Sometimes it pays not to anticipate where you’re heading to and what it might feel like. Sometimes you have to trust that you’re propelled along only the track that has been built for you, to take you to the end that has always been designed for you. Sometimes I have to remind myself that, on a roller coaster car is a seatbelt but no steering wheel – and for a good reason!