by Janie Emaus of The Boomer Rants
Jumping out of an airplane. Running with the bulls. Skiing down a black diamond run. Bungee jumping. Riding a roller coaster.
For some people, the above could be a Bucket List. For me, they are terrifying activities. I have sworn to never, ever have my name appear in the same sentence as one of those so-called life challenges. And up until recently, I have been true to my “non-participation” declaration.
But there I was, a few weeks ago, at Disneyland, The Happiest Place on Earth, facing one of my fears: riding a roller coaster. While everyone else ran quickly towards the object of my angst, I strolled along talking to myself.
Should I? Could I? Would I?
The fact is, I’m not afraid of getting hurt. Or of flying off the ride into midair. I just don’t like the feeling of going up…up…up….so slowly that I can feel every muscle in my body twitch, followed by that sudden descent into what feels like hell. Yes, I do know what it feels like because I have ridden on a few roller coasters when I was younger and I hated it. In fact, hate is too nice a word for how I felt. Thus, all such thrill-seeking rides ended up on my “never-to-do” list.
But somehow the look on my granddaughter’s face and the plea in her voice got me all twisted around until the words “Yes, I’ll do it” squeaked out without my consent.
During the ride, I hung onto my friend and neighbor for security. A good neighbor usually means someone who will lend you a cup of sugar or some dish soap, or possibly someone to confide in on a Friday night after a few glasses of wine.
I don’t think hanging on to a neighbor’s arm until it turns blue is a necessary requirement in the “Good Neighbor” manual. But my neighbor gladly offered her arm. She also kept up a running commentary, assuring me that we were not going to drop off suddenly into nothingness as we crept up…up…up.
She was right. We didn’t zoom downwards. We just kept spinning around and around. Eventually, through my screams, I heard myself laughing.
When the ride was over, I high-fived everyone in our group. And then as they rushed to their next thrill-seeking moment, I analyzed this situation.
Why am I afraid? My mind stopped at one word: anticipation. It gets me every time.
In fact, I’m plagued with this malady in almost all situations. I play the “what if” game, trying to imagine how events will pan out. How will the conversation go with my agent? How will my boss react to my asking for a raise? Will my relatives get along at dinner?
I always imagine the worst case scenerio. Slowly, I work myself up…up…up into such a state with what I think could happen, that sometimes I might actually make it happen.
Anticipation can also be applied to recommendations. I’m sure you’ve been told that some film, book or restaurant is the absolute best in the world. So, you anticipate this greatness and when it doesn’t live up to the hype, you’re disappointed.
Knowing nothing in advance is often times best. Of course, you wouldn’t enter into the wilderness without being prepared. But preparation and anticipation are two different things.
So, using my new philosophy, I prepared myself for the next roller-coaster ride, by not dwelling on it. Just going for it. And the day turned out to be one that I’ll never forget.
Now I’m thinking that I might try bungee jumping. But what if……
Photo credit: hounddiggity on flickr