Life’s adrenaline rushes lose their allure after a certain age.
At church the other day, the pastor gave an interesting sermon on the topic: “Life is Not a Rollercoaster.”
His theme runs counter to conventional wisdom, which holds that life, indeed, is like a rollercoaster, happily and hopelessly filled with ups and down before the coaster pulls up at the finish line.
The theory behind the sermon was this: Who among us-when faced with the downward slope of a lost job, a failed marriage, a problem child or a financial setback-starts going “wheeeee,” with hands happily jabbed in the air? And then, knowing what the downward slope is really like in life, who among us looks forward with excited anticipation to the long ride to the top of the coaster, knowing that reaching the top simply begins the stressful downward rumble all over again?
The message was that most people enjoy a theme park rollercoaster ride, but most of us aren’t quite as eager for life’s literal twists and turns.
The question that came to me after I left church (as all really good questions do, it seems) is whether the many people who still subscribe to the rollercoaster theory of life really enjoy riding rollercoasters in the first place.
Think about it: When visiting a theme park, do you run to the rollercoaster or run away from it?
There was a time when I loved riding any rollercoaster. Years ago, shortly after we were married, I remember my wife and I found ourselves along on a corkscrew type rollercoaster at Busch Gardens in Florida. Since no one was in line, we rode that rollercoaster seven times in a row, never leaving our seats in the front of the cab as it twisted and turned upside down and around, getting off only after becoming dizzy rather than tired of the ride. Back then, the anticipation of the run and excitement around the next corner was intoxicating, exhilarating, something to look forward to: The whole track lay before me, and I couldn’t wait to hop on.
But now, years later, just writing about the bone-clanging rumble up the 14-story-tall Texas Giant, proudly hailed as the world’s largest wood-structured rollercoaster, gives me a backache. And the nauseating looping twists and turns on Shock Wave aren’t enticing anymore, they’re just plain scary.
Thinking back on the sermon, it’s kind of comforting that life isn’t like a rollercoaster, because sometime between then and now, I’ve lost the ability to be excited about the speed and uncertainty of life’s swervy, unsteady path.
Now whether that’s a good thing or not, I’ll leave to ponder another day.
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.