‘You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. …Up down. Up down. Oh! What a ride. I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it’. Grandma. Parenthood.
When I was little my mum took my brother and I to Disneyland. A sort of a ‘once in a life opportunity’ for us at the time to travel overseas, I remember thinking how much I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity because I may not get it again. I was 9 years old.
It was the roller-coasters at Disneyland that challenged this thought. My beautiful and rather clever mother seeing my simultaneous fear and wonderment each time my tiny frame stood beneath the roller-coasters, timed each of the ‘scary’ rides and said, ‘You know darling if you get on and you really hate it, it’ll only last 3 minutes’.
And so I got on the roller-coaster. I got on all of them. They were fabulous and fun and exciting. And when they weren’t? I knew that they would only last three minutes.
The wisdom that this experience gave me at the time was that in order to have an adventurous life you have to ‘answer the call to adventure’ as mythologist Joseph Campbell would state. You have to, not only see the door but you have to make the choice to actively step through it. If I’ve been wary or frightened? Good. My fear is a way of protecting me, making sure I carry the tools I’ve gathered with me along the way before I step through the threshold.
But of course as we grow older we learn more things and I have learned through recent experiences that actively NOT making the choice to step through is just as valuable, particularly if you take a look at why you are saying yes to the call.
Since Disneyland for instance I have carried with me a little saying I use when faced with the prospect of adventure. ‘What would I like to tell my grandchildren I did?’ Usually I wish to tell them I said YES, envisioning my future, wrinkly self glimmering with cheeky eyes toward my grandchildren telling them of all the adventures this once not so frail body went on.
In this vision they also stare straight back at me in awe of my achievements. Interesting no? Are some of my choices to say yes based on gratifying what I believe people have come to perceive of me or even trying to have some control over what I want other people to believe I am?
In this way, when I look at the story of my life, how much no was yes and vice versa?
In tarot the first card is ‘the fool’. He or she is represented as a jester and in numerology as zero, the number of unlimited potential. Though I don’t prescribe to tarot per say, the stories, like the above mentioned myths, were designed at the time to reveal something to us of the stories of our own lives, our journeys and the possible choices we can make on our way. The fool always intrigued me probably because he is all of us, a character thrown into this thing called life, full of potential yes, but also vulnerable to making mistakes, to being ‘fool-ish’. The naivety, innocence and child like qualities the character of the fool possessed was designed to teach us to be curious, to have adventures but that we may also fall over on our way and that those falls would help us learn and grow.
I’ve been quite the fool of late. And given myself quite the bad wrap in turn. To quote another line from the film Parenthood ‘He likes to butt things with his head’; I seem to have a default position in one or two areas of my life where I forget my tools, forget what I’ve learned and jump on the roller coaster butting my head over and over again in the process. You see at the time these particular ‘calls to adventure’ present themselves, I forget another something I’ve learned, that adult roller-coasters can last a hell of a lot longer than 3 minutes.
During these times I know I hang on for dear life. With gritted teeth and teary eyes I choose to hate every minute of it. I wonder if I made another choice, to throw my hands into the air if I’m on the ride and can do nothing about it. Doing this means I would give less of my energy away. It might also mean I have a little fun or at the very least, allow myself to see the ride out and know its truly done when I arrive back at the conductor.
Ever since Disneyland I’ve said to friends ‘I’d rather ride the roller-coaster’. That whether good or bad I’d rather have an adventure filled life where I learn and experience a tonne more than a life filled with monotony and ‘safe’ would give me. But recent events have also told me that there are certain roller-coasters that aren’t for me anymore and that I don’t have to choose them.
Wonder. Meant …told me that riding a roller-coaster is a choice and if you’re gunna get on, make sure you let go. It’ll be a lot more fun that way.