In Seattle there is a lovely public zoo and park area called Woodland Park. Years back, before Starbucks, there was an area of the park that had kiddy rides. Money was scarce in our house, and going to the park and seeing all the animals in the zoo should have been treat enough, but we kids always looked with longing at those rides! Once in a while our pestering would finally wear the folks down, and each of us kids would get a dime to use for one ride.
I don’t remember how it happened. Maybe a tender hearted aunt or uncle or older brother or sister sent some money for the specific purpose of going on the rides at the park, or maybe it was “Free Ride Day”- I really can’t tell you – but I know that one year when we went to Woodland Park, I had a choice to go on any ride I wanted as many times as I wanted!
I had long had a fear-filled fascination with the roller coaster in the park. I was scared spitless just watching the contraption. It would wobble and clatter and almost fail to reach the top of the first tremendous climb, then it would SWOOSH and drop straight down to the curve at the bottom, rolling and swaying as though it would jump the tracks at any moment. Or at least that’s what it to seemed like to me. Shoud I really try to ride it? I could barely make myself watch the roller coaster, and that only if I had my hands in front of my face, peeking through my fingers. Could I really handle being on the thing itself?
My first ride on the rollercoaster was the absolute epitome of frightening. I didn’t think I would live through it, and my legs would hardly hold me upright when the nightmare trip came to an end. BUT, I knew I could go on the ride as many times as I wanted. What’s a kid to do? Ride again, of course. I don’t recall how many times I climbed back on that roller coaster, but each ride became less frightening and more entertaining. I ended up having a wonderful time! I think the final ‘take away’ from that day’s experience was this: Fear can be overcome, and going from fear to fun is an exhilarating journey.