Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why Roller Coasters Are Good For You

On Saturday, I went to the carnival at the rodeo. I'd already been last year so I wasn't expecting anything other than seeing tons of people and eating fried everything on a stick. This time though, my friend decided that we were going to go on the scariest rides at the carnival. I haven't been on a roller coaster or any kind of amusement park ride (except the carousel) since I was about six or so. I remember sometime after my last Haunted House venture that I swore to myself I would never go on a roller coaster again. Eleven years later, I had completely forgot why I had promised myself this until I actually got in the seat. 

I went on two rides. The first one was more of a you go up and down and backwards at an abominable speed and height. It was petrifying. Most of it was the fact that I thought I was literally going to die because I thought I was going to slip out of my seat. I was extremely uncomfortable with the protection and that made a significant difference between the way I felt about the two rides. You know that feeling where your stomach flies up into your mouth and your breath gets knocked out of you and you feel as though you're falling about ten stories down before you're suddenly whisked into the other direction? And after about five minutes of this, when you're about to get used to the feeling, you're stopped at the top of this horrendous mechanical contraption. You open your eyes for the first time and find your fingers are clenched into claws. Your whole body is tense. You feel your legs cramping. Oh, look. We're so far up the ground. It's a good thing I'm not afraid of heights or I'd probably start screaming bloody murder. Beautiful sunset.

The second ride was not as frightening because my partner and I were strapped in a cage. I felt much more comfortable and safe there than on the previous ride. There was one frightening moment where my partner suddenly yelled a hideous yell because the ride unexpectedly rolled us backwards while plummeting us downwards. At the end of the day, my whole body was aching because of the cramps I had forced my body into in ultimate survival mode. 

I can honestly say that those were the most frightening experiences of my life. Not even almost hitting a tree at high speed was as frightening as those two rides. I was calm in the car, my thoughts were "Oh, so this is how I'm going to die." At the carnival, my exact thoughts and words were more along the lines of "FuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckFUCK". I still don't like roller coaster rides and I don't intend on jumping on one in the next (at least) ten years, but I must say that it was one of the most enriching experiences of my life. That must seem very trivial, but it's true. That fear, that unadulterated, pure fear, that before I had never felt, was beautiful. It was frightening but at the same time so beautiful. To go to the edge of emotion, to know that what you have been struggling with, life, may be whisked away at any moment...That's one more reminder that you care. I'm reminded by my friend's words who said several weeks ago "Bad experiences enrich your life". I didn't agree with him at the time, but now I do. Truly frightening, dangerous, adrenaline-pumping, set-teeth-on-edge experiences make life worth living. I think it's important now to feel at least once every twenty years pure fear, to know how you're going to react to such a situation and to feel truly afraid for your life. It might make you want to live it better.

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