So there I am… Can you see me? I am suspended 160 feet in the air on Mickey’s Fun Wheel at California Adventure. Next to me is my wife and 14-year-old little sister. The wind is howling and it’s very chilly up here. I can hear people screaming and laughing all around me, but I am motionless and turning more blue by the second. I am aware there are five other people in this cart with me, but I cannot see anyone, because my peripherals are blurred and my eyes are fixed in tunnel vision toward the metal frame directly in front on me. For a breathless moment, the eye of the storm in my mind passes, and I realize I am in the fetal position with my whole body clinched and gripping the seat intently, all the while I am trying to counter balance my weight while the cage swings radically about. “Put your hands up! I wonder how many times this cage has needed repair,” says my 14-year-old sister.
Let me rewind for a moment. We are in California Adventure, just leaving Carsland and heading toward the California Screamin’ rollercoaster; I have been begging my wife and sister to ride it with me all day. Now, I must mention that these two ladies are utterly terrified of roller coasters! Me and my genius self, decided to convince them that the knots in their stomachs, from the roller coaster drops, are completely counterbalanced if they breath out before they drop and put their hands up. Being convinced, we are now in line waiting to board the roller coaster. As we are getting closer, anyone can take a last chance elevator should they choose to back out of the ride. My wife and sister are telling me how afraid they are, so I try my best to console them.
Finally, I tell them “Look guys, this is it…if you don’t take that elevator now, you will have to go on this ride!” With much hesitation and a little peer pressure, they both conceded to get on the ride. So, we rode the roller coaster and all went well, right? Wrong! At the time, I did not consider that my sister would want to ride the scariest ride in the park, Mickey’s Fun Wheel. Now let me make something clear, I used to jump out of planes and helicopters, so why would I be afraid of riding a stupid Ferris wheel? Truth be told, jumping out of a plane is easier, because I am not stuck in a cage suspended 160 feet in the air at the mercy of the last maintenance check done on the ride. When it came to parachuting, At least I was able to inspect my equipment, and wasn’t cramped up in some small overcrowded space (I am also claustrophobic).
So, here we go now! My sister is telling me that she wants to ride Mickey’s Fun Wheel. I say, “Okay, let’s do it!” (All the while, I am not showing any fear, because I am the big brother, you know.) As we get closer to the Mickey’s Fun Wheel, I start to notice something I previously did not. There are two lines. TWO LINES!!! “Wait a minute, why are there two lines?” I find out the Fun Wheel has two types of carts, one locked in place, and another that has wheels and rides on an oval track causing it to swing radically throughout the rotation. Guess which one my sister wants to ride? You got it! The stupid swinging one. Now, in my mind I am screaming AAAHHHH!!!
So, fast forwarding to now, my sister is heckling me and while fully enjoying this rare occasion of seeing her big tough brother act like a sissy in snakeskin leather pants. So my whole body is clenched, and I have tunnel vision while I am counter balancing my weight to slow the scariness of each swing as I rotate on this stupid wheel. After 9 minutes (which felt like an eternity), it was finally our turn to exit the cage, and I made the single most important declaration of my life. “I AM NEVER RIDING A STUPID FERRIS WHEEL AGAIN!”
Now, I bet you are wondering what this funny-yet-relevant-put yourself in my shoes-story has to do with anything. Well, the next day as I am driving back home to Arizona, I began to reflect and laugh about that super embarrassing performance I displayed in front of my wife and little sister. What confidence they have in me now?
I began to think about my life, and how that ride experience has been my story for so many years. You see, when I didn’t know the importance of figuring out who I am, and how I fit within the event of life, I easily believed that things happened randomly or by chance. Hanging in suspense, clenched with no vision or care of anyone else, accurately reflects most of my life and the majority of people I observe walking through life. When we cannot see the patterns in life, when we cannot understand how everything fits together, or when we do not know what value we can bring to the table, life quickly becomes overwhelming. The seemingly random events that we continue to relive over and over again, causes confusion and we make more rash decisions, which leads us to believe every event in life has many “could be’s” or “maybes”. In reality, if I had paid attention to the many riders before me, I would have clearly seen that everything is going to be okay. The maybes don’t actually exist.
It’s when we find ourselves in those moments that we should stop and recognize that we need help. Remember, earlier in the story I told you that my wife was right next to me. Well throughout the ride, she was trying to hold me and console me, because she had already been through this and knew some tricks, but I was not capable of seeing or hearing her. In those moments, we often discover there are experts in our lives who have experienced virtually the same circumstances and can help us see a little clearer and little further. It is in those moments, we often can experience a little less stress and maintain a peace of mind knowing that everything WILL be okay. What I learned on that ride, was not necessarily that the ride only had one outcome [a safe exit], but in the midst of the battlefield in my mind, if I could have picked my head up for a second, I would have been better able to use my wife’s expertise and comfort, to help me solve my problem.
For some of you, this was just a funny ride story that you could relate too, but for others it is a testament that when we look back on any event through hindsight, wishing we could have done something different, we realize that every event in life is necessary for growing and learning. In this case, my experience was a chance for me to recognize other people’s value and grab onto the help that is all around me, if I could just humble myself and ask for help.