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home : opinion : opinion August 13, 2020

5/22/2020 2:24:00 PM
Guest Column
Riding Life's Roller Coaster

Marty Reep, Author
Speaker, Forward-Thinker

Riding life’s roller coaster can be fun, thrilling, exhausting, and interesting – all at the same time. Birth and death are life-changing events, especially if we are close to those involved.

Most of us don’t remember our own births (maybe there are a rare, few people who do – sort of like Monk supposedly did on the long-running TV series), but we definitely remember the births of others…and their deaths.

Being that birth and death tend to happen in different timeframes, we are accustomed to dealing with them in their own, separate spaces. But, when both of those things happen near each other, it’s unnerving. One joyous event can set off a chain reaction of emotions, actions, and responses. Likewise, one devastating event can set off a chain reaction in equal proportions, but with quite different emotions, actions, and questions.

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When those events happen in timeframes that we believe to be appropriate, sensible, and expected, then we are usually okay with them, because there is time to process everything that comes with them. But, when they happen right next to each other – even with different people – it’s like being tossed around by unseen forces of unexplainable magnitude.

When I was a kid, I went to an amusement park with some friends. They really wanted to ride “The Monster” roller coaster…and they wanted me to ride it with them. At first, I thought, “Sure! No problem!” But, as we were standing in line, getting closer and closer to the front of the platform, I saw the faces of other kids who had just ridden.

Some were thrilled, while others were terrified. So, I psyched myself up, got in the seat, pulled down the overhead safety U-bar, and got ready to go.

BAM! We were off like a rocket. At first, I was excited, but then we came over the top of the first, gigantic hill. My stomach went numb, and the rest of me froze. While my friend next to me was screaming and laughing his head off, I sat wide-eyed, clutching the U-bar, and hoping I wouldn’t fly off into orbit!

As the ride came to an end, my friend, Jack, kept saying, “You okay? You okay? Say something!”

Suddenly, my fear broke. I realized that it was a controlled experience. Nothing more. Nothing less. The roller coaster people weren’t going to do anything stupid, and I had gotten past the terror of what “might have happened”.

“Yeah! I’m fine,” and then, “WOOOHHOOO!” came out of my mouth.

Jack asked, “Wanna go again?”

“Yeah! Let’s do it!”
“Are you sure? You really scared me, back there.”

“Yeah, I’m sure!”


“’Cause I’m over being scared. This time, I’m gonna ride it to have fun, not because somebody talked me into it.”

“Right on!” 

All through the second time, I laughed, screamed, and held my hands up…just like my friend. Sure, I bounced around, lost my stomach again, and even went a little numb. But I didn’t let the fear paralyze me. I felt every bit of air, every emotion, and every sound that rushed past.

During that second ride, I realized that the roller coaster didn’t have an agenda or a vendetta. It was just a roller coaster. It only had the power, sway, or credence that I gave to it in my mind.

Births and deaths seem to do the same thing. They’re going to happen, even when we don’t understand everything about them.

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