For years, I had one rule when I went to amusement parks: NEVER go on the thrill-seeking, height-defying rides.
Personally, I don’t like to feel terrified for the “fun” of it. Also, I have a propensity for motion sickness and an inherited curvature of my spine, held firm by a large metal rod. My body can’t take being jolted and jarred, so I have generally heeded the signs posted throughout the parks that warn about bodily injury or harm. Instead, I spent most of my days waiting and carrying “all the things” while others sought excitement.
Yes, my health concerns were valid. However, deep down, I knew I was also being sidelined by unrealistic fear. I was tired of missing out on these rides, only hearing about their reactions and interactions with one another after they found me (and all their belongings) waiting for them on a nearby bench.
So, when my husband found two rides that weren’t categorized as roller coasters and didn’t involve crazy spinning, he asked me to consider joining them. Inside, I was dying to do it, but I also didn’t want to be tricked into riding something that would ruin my entire day.
After asking the attendant about the ride, I agreed to throw caution to the wind. The desire to make memories in these moments with my young adult children, which are increasingly rare, motivated me to loosen my fear and enter the winding line of thrill-seekers.
Thirty minutes later, I found myself at the buckled, locked, and loaded point. It was too late to change my mind. I tried to control my fears, but I hated not knowing what would happen once I was at the mercy of the ride!
The next thing I knew, the seat took off, made a slight drop, and then began to move at high speed through a 3-D danger zone. I felt like my family had overestimated my ability to enjoy this experience.
I screamed. I closed my eyes more than I had them open. I threatened to kill my husband —all while they laughed in between their own gasps and screams.
As I hung nearly upside-down, I was seriously scolding myself for doing something I never thought I wanted to do. Even so, I was happy I was experiencing it alongside others who were also screaming in excitement.
I remember my husband pushing my stiff leg down that was in “car-safety mom-mode.” You know — that protective instinct that makes you flail your arm straight out as a barrier in front of your kid in the front seat when you sense danger lurking. I was steeling myself for sure, and it cracked them up.
Though I didn’t see much of the ride, I experienced it! This was much more than I had sitting on the bench wondering what they were doing. It was worth the few minutes of exhilarating emotions of both fear and joy, giving me the confidence to try another ride. I discovered ways to temper my motion sickness and found smooth rides that didn’t jeopardize my back.
Though I probably won’t make plans to ride the 3-D ride again, I will hold the possibility open and stop assuming I can’t until I have tried. If I had said “Never!” I wouldn’t have connected on the same level and made forever memories, even if those memories include being the brunt of the jokes over my reactions in those moments.
Moving from the pack mule to the reluctant rider built my confidence to keep trying new things, and I can’t think of a better example to leave for my children.