Friday, March 05, 2021

Rollercoasters



I've begun cleaning out my computer files and I've come across a memoir I put aside a few years ago. It brought me back to probably my earliest blog post, written in 2006 at a time when I saw and experienced life a certain way. I'm still pondering what has and hasn't changed in my thinking, but I do know I still don't mind taking a risk or two. How about you? 

 My Blog Entry 2006

Whatever is exhilarating is also risky, kind of like riding a roller coaster with your hands above your head and your feet so flip-floppy they won’t help you brace, especially during that first long wild dip, when your hair flies behind you at lightning speed and you can barely hear your own screams because they are folded into the chill of the collective scream, all the way down, until you level out waiting for the next rapid rise and fall.

        True, there’s a steel bar across your lap that holds you to the seat, makes sure gravity will not pick you up and plummet you into mid air and sudden death, but let’s face it: you want to ride that roller coaster that way—reckless and reflectively—so you hand over a piece of yourself without knowing the ropes, the same as if you choose a backcountry trail without provisions or a map; you do it that way and you’re taking your chances that you'll know what to do when the danger rush comes flying at you, when there’s no time to think and certainly no time to plan.

            You know it makes more sense to size things up, take your time and venture slowly, get familiar with what's known and what isn't. You know It’s better to not be surprised when you are not prepared, to keep the rudder steady, to drop Hansel and Gretel corn kernels behind you so the path stays familiar. But then again when you know your way, you’re not surprised, and when you’re not surprised, you’re not deep in the thrill and the rush ride that’s lost to you is not exactly small.

Isn’t that why sooner or later you come to admire people who just throw their arms up and go with it and venture forth, no map, no plan, no umbrella, no kernels of anything except the wild stallion within them, why you react with amazement when they decide to let loose, finally, fully, foolishly, yes, but who’s to say the benefit won’t be the lovely freedom of unleashed passion, newly minted wonder, a way of moving in a sometimes flat world, a level of deciding that transcends and transforms everything that’s come before it?

Don’t most of us envy people like that, wish we could do it that way too, at least sometimes? Don’t you want the earth to move, the foundation to shake, the stars to explode right in front of you, to throw you off your feet and high into the air in one explosive bolt? Really now, Don’t you?

I knew a woman who traded in her compass and her raincoat for the thrill of the open road. She burned her house down and everything in it one October morning and she never looked back. When she ventured forth, she was anchorless, weightless, unencumbered, clueless, totally wide and open and fresh and full. It was like her heart had split itself down the middle, pulsating with its own raw recklessness, spilling forth love dust everywhere, no fences, no ambivalence, no back doors, not a molecule of second guessing. She slid onto that roller coaster seat and for two years she rode up the track and down, letting an unfamiliar and totally exhilarating passion slap her face, toss her from side to side, spike her right off her seat. Vibrant images and new possibilities flew by her with lightning speed, new colors and new…….

But…

...That passion sometimes overtakes, not just exhilarates. Have you learned that hearts can roam free and wild for only so long, before they need to slow down, level out, open up and wide, yes, but did you know that hearts prefer a clean cut that expands and not explosives that blast?

Because when your heart explodes, shards blow and fall everywhere, and you might spend years picking the blown apart pieces, trying to put them back together rightly. That is what happened to this other woman I knew. It took her a long time to stop looking to find and repair all those pieces. It took her a long time to learn about balance and safety and steady sails. But she did learn. But too, every once in a while she is back on that roller coaster, whoopy-ing her way through wild arms in the air ride, letting the wind take her again, leaving her umbrella and compass in a back room somewhere.


5 comments:

  1. I’m checking to see if there’s a problem posting comments. I hope not!

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  2. As a former backpacker, often going out without map or compass, I can say that yes, there is a great freedom in letting the world unfold in front of you without, to surprise you, sometimes to scare you but to be mostly awestruck.

    Getting on a rollercoaster, where you have absolutely NO control, is just crazy, in my opinion. I will never understand why people want to feel terror.

    "Don’t you want the earth to move, the foundation to shake, the stars to explode right in front of you, to throw you off your feet and high into the air in one explosive bolt? Really now, Don’t you?"

    Well, yes. All of that. Except I do prefer to have my feet on the ground while allowing my jaw to be dropped : )

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  3. People who take risks that might result in death--like free climbing sheer rock faces--have lower than normal adrenaline levels, and so they must take extreme risks in order to experience what others experience much more readily. I've taken few such risks, and the ones I did take were based upon the following: an overestimate of my abilities on some occasions; a desire to overcome my fears on others; and an unwillingness to pay other people to do for me what I could do myself on still others. Emotionally, I've sometimes taken risks that were ill-advised, selfish, and wounded myself and others. Now, I take as few risks as I am able. I think that age tends to do that to people, and that this is often a good thing because as our abilities decrease, our vulnerabilities increase. I value peace and safety a lot. I value thrills not at all.

    Well, KJ, the asshole is out of office and we and our nation survived him--at least somewhat. I know that there is now a barrier between Democrats and Republicans that is unlikely to be lowered during my lifetime anyway and that could even lead to increased anger, suspicion, and violence. I also know that my own disgust with Trumpites is permanent, and that there is nothing whatsoever that anyone can say or do to decrease it. This is because I believe that Trumpites would have become as bloodthirsty and oppressive as Hitlerites became had Trump been able to amass the power that Hiter achieved. People like you and I would might not have survived a regime in which Trump had full power.

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  4. Hi snow, so nice to ‘hear’ you again. I think I’m still open to taking emotional risks, and less so for stretching physically and financially. I wish we had extra $ to invest in buying and renovating sweet properties here on The Outer Cape. It would be a definite risk but janet and I still leave the door open a crack.

    Trump has remained more dangerous than i foresaw. It is a tragedy for me that his hatred and racism have the following of so many Americans. Thank god he lost. You’re right that it’s not something to move on from. I feel shock and disgust that any decent person would embrace his lies and debasement.

    Biden thinks he can be transformational. That would be quite a gift to humanity.
    Love kj

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  5. "I feel shock and disgust that any decent person would embrace his lies and debasement."

    Which opens the question of whether they ARE decent people, and what it even means to be a decent person. In "The Confessions of Nat Turner, William Styron explores many aspects of slavery including the different ways slave owners defended the concept of black people as property. While some slave owners were clearly less abusive than other slave owners, all slave owners were, by definition, slave owners. Likewise, no matter what virtues they possess and what rationalizations they employ, all Trumpians nonetheless defend and support Trumpian filth.

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