Friday, April 16, 2010

Roller Coasters, Beach Balls and Butterflies

     Why do people ride roller coasters and rides that are designed to terrify you? I, personally, do not do rides. The last ride I was on was that apple shaped ride that spins around. Not exactly death defying. Knowing I don’t do rides, I wanted to join in the festivities with my friends. I paid my admission, sat down and felt my heart begin to pound. The carnival worker came by and locked the bar in place. As he made his way back to his station he passed by my little apple of terror. Pausing, he looked at me and unlocked the bar. With a friendly smile he took my hand and helped me out. “I don’t think so” said his smile. My apple companion howled with laughter as the carnival worker and I walked off the ride’s platform hand in hand. I was good with that. The holding of hands was actually quite nice and probably expedited the color returning to my face.
    To those I’ve questioned, they describe the thrill of being overwhelmed with fear and the adrenalin rush they get. Thrill and fear are not exactly two words I would put side by side. And then you add laughter and I’m totally confused. From all appearances – watching from the ground as a spectator- it is, as its name advertises, a roller coaster of emotions.
    Today began with me tossing a beach ball in the air. Not at the beach mind you. I was at work well before third shift clocked out. It had been a long week at work and sometimes you just need to laugh and play. Facing another eleven hour day, it seemed like a grand idea. Yes, I keep a beach ball on my shelf at work. I use it for stress relief and today, the beach ball, like I, had clocked in and began to work.
    It matters not the details of the day. Say to anyone that your day was a roller coaster of emotions and they immediately understand. Today was a roller coaster of emotions, beginning with the beach ball, feeling overwhelmed with laughter and smiles as the day progressed and ending with news from home that broke my heart. Unfortunately, there was no carnival worker to unlock the bar, take my hand and walk me off the platform.
     As I write, today is almost tomorrow. Reflecting on the day and its gamut of emotions which reminds me of the complexity and simplicity of life, I pause and give thanks. No, my heart still feels broken, for myself and others, but I have to give thanks that I can feel its brokenness. I can hear. I can see. I can feel. I am alive. The apple ride of human emotions needs no bar to lock me in and keep me safe. It is a ride that makes me human and alive grasping and releasing the depth of human emotions. The ride is not a “into everyone life a little rain must fall” attitude, no not that. The ride is one of butterfly wings that dance in twists and twirls often lifted or turned around by the wind. Butterflies are not meant to be captured and pinned to Styrofoam because of their colors. Their beauty lies in the elegance of color and movement.
     And so it is with the apple ride of emotions. I am not so wise as to understand it all but I do know if you mount a beach ball on Styrofoam the air will rush out leaving it flat and motionless. Like butterflies, the beauty and joy of beach balls are in their color and movement. The beauty of today, and all its emotions, vulnerability, joy and sadness lies in its movement and color. Knowing that, this is one ride I’ll gladly pay admission again and again. Movement, color, and texture – the feel and feeling of life. 
     Let the music of the ride begin. I lift my arms in the air ready to twist, twirl, laugh and dance and never alone.