We went to a local amusement park for a last blast of summer family vacation. My teenage daughter likes roller coasters, and as the only adult in the group who could tolerate them, I went along for the ride with her. One of their newest coasters, which twists upside down through a number of corkscrew turns, is one of my favorites with its smooth, bullet ride. I can’t bear to open my eyes after we get to the top of the first hill, but I only screamed twice–it was a blast.
The odd thought that popped into my head as we hurtled upside down (at least I think we were upside down at that instant, since my eyes were shut) was “This is proof I’m alive!”. Why did I think that? Is that why we like roller coasters, because they remind us we’re alive? Does the routine drudgery of our daily lives numb us to the point that we need a near-death experience to feel again? After all, it isn’t terribly fulfilling to go to work, pay our bills, do the grocery shopping, and clean the house.
I don’t really like any other adrenaline-inducing activities. But I do like pushing myself outside my comfort zone. Ok, maybe I don’t exactly like it, but I feel this urge to do so on a regular basis, or I know it will close in on me. The most recent example was going to a friend’s Improve Through Improv class. I was terrified. And I was terrible. I’m not good at thinking on my feet, especially when it’s combined with being creative. But it was still somehow ok. The small group was supportive and didn’t make me feel bad about leaving them hanging, which I did repeatedly. I almost can’t wait to do it again and know, again, that I’m truly alive.
“I believe anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears, provided he keeps doing them until he gets a record of successful experience behind him.” –Eleanor Roosevelt