Dad drove me to a amusement park, said it was finally worth going because i was big enough for all the fun, tall, fast, sometimes scary rides. those are the ones i was excited about, the ones i’d been waiting to be old enough and big enough to ride. we pulled in just before nine, he parked and i ran to get in line. He told me i didn’t have to rush, that this wasn’t a race people win, but i enjoyed the feeling of my legs pushing harder, my heart and lungs pumping a syncopated beat for my excitement to dance to. we got checked in, and He was handed a map of the park. i asked Him if i could hold it, but He told me it would be easier for me if He did, since He was already familiar with this area. i let Him, and took off sprinting towards the first ride. it was tall, the first big ride i’d ever ridden. i went to the front of the line for the front car. i wanted to feel everything. the whiplash of the takeoff, the nervous anticipation of climbing the rungs, click by mechanical click, the steepness of the first drop.
the gates swung open and and were buckled in. the employees gave the thumbs up, and we shifted. they gave us a countdown. 5...4…3…2…1! even with a countdown, i wasn't ready, but i loved it.
we were off with a rush, my chest already buzzing. we began to climb. it was slow, so slow i had to look down to make sure i was even moving. i didn’t know if it was scarier to look up, where i felt detached from the safety of touching the ground, or to look down, where my mind was swimming with the scenarios that would send me diving towards the earth. i decided to close my eyes. we reached the top, and came to what felt like an eternal pause… then all of a sudden we were falling, careening back towards the ground. my stomach lurched into my throat, forcing out screams to make itself more room. i wasn’t scared anymore, though. i loved the rush. the fast pace, the sharp turns, seeing the bends up ahead and yet never being fully prepared for them. i was hooked on the feeling. the ride came to its stop much faster than its start, and i begged my Dad to ride again. He agreed. so we rode it again. and again. and again. and again.
we rode for what felt like forever before Dad said He thought we should try another ride. i told Him i wanted to ride it a little longer. He got out, and told me He’d wait for me on the platform, mapping out where we would go next. i couldn’t hear Him over my own screams as i rode off once again, the seat next to me empty. the climb felt less stable without His grounding weight next to me, the drop much steeper without His hand covering mine on the bar. i was nervous, and not the excited kind. i figured if i rode a little longer i’d get used to it, so i did, but it didn’t work. i finally got off and met Him at the platform. i felt better not because i was touching the ground again, but because i was where Dad was. i wished i’d gotten off when He did. i decided then that when He went, so would i.
and so it continued throughout the day. we tried rides, fast and slow, tall and short, upside-down and backwards. i loved them all for different reasons, and we rode them all together. after a while i grew tired, worn out from running from ride to ride with no breaks, so He carried me to the car and drove me home. i slept quickly and deeply. we talked for weeks about the excitement of that day, my limbs buzzing like i was still high on adrenaline. i asked Him if we could go back, He said we’d wait a while. i said ok, but my questions couldn’t be held off for long, and i continued to inquire about our return to the park. after a while i stopped asking. after a while He asked me if i wanted to go back. i was surprised it was He who asked, but was thrilled i had my answer. we got in the car that next weekend and drove back, some roads familiar, and some having changed a little. i liked the change of scenery.
i was older then. the pace at which we moved around had slowed from sprint to stroll, and the pace at which we rode did too, both of us knowing we would feel the dips and turns more sharply than before. i was tired, but didn’t tell Him. i figured i was too grown to be carried to the car. so we kept walking. we ended up on ride that had not depth but diameter. Dad suggested we simply ride around slowly for a little bit to catch our breath before beginning the trek back to the car. i complied, however unenthused. the ride began, slow and uneventful enough that a countdown had been deemed unnecessary. around we went. and around, and around, and around, and around. i lost count of the loops, the turns, the seconds. eventually, i stopped trying to count. i waited for the flag of the last lap, i waited for Him to say it was time for us to get off. i’d grown to miss the pace of the coasters. i chose to forget the ache in my knees after climbing 4 sets of stairs. i forgot how many times i checked my watch as a waited for a ride that wouldn’t last longer than a fifth of the time i was in line. i couldn’t recall how long my neck hurt after the sixth turn. i just missed the fast rides, i was tired of riding around in circles.
i am tired of riding around in circles.
but alas, here i am, coasting through my days like a circular ride. feeling i’ve neither picked up speed nor gained ground. every time around feels like the last. no change of scenery, no change of pace, nothing to indicate i’ve made anything close to progress, if i even know what that truly means…
in my family, we often do daily debriefs. they're not always scheduled or planned, they usually spark from my mom asking how the day was when we get home. this is a practice i've grown to love and appreciate. the fact that my family cares about me, my feelings and simply what i did that day is something i've come to realize isn't as commonplace as it is in my home, so i am grateful. recently, however, i've walked in the door after work a little less excited to talk about my day than i used to be. i hear the question, “how was your day?” and my response is, “no different than yesterday.
i don't know about you, but my life is not always cruisin' at the top of a rollercoaster. more often than not, i feel like i'm stuck on one of those kiddie rides at an amusement park. the ones that strap you in like in coaster car, but you ride around in a 20' diameter circle at 6mph for the longest 26 seconds ever counted. i've had my high points, but right now i feel like i'm stuck on a ride that wasn't made for my amusement. i’m not trying to depress you, or try to get you to hop into the seat next to me and keep me company as i ride around in infinite, monotonous circles. i wrote this allegory for myself, as i love to process how i’m feeling and what i’m living through creatively. i like this way because it offers me outside perspective on my own situation. i analyze my life, my story, and i strip it down to its bones. i grow from them a new person, a new character to get to know. one with similar experiences to mine. different enough that i feel i must pay attention to unique details, but familiar enough that if i look into her eyes i can see my reflection. sure, i could’ve left this little girl and her Dad in a journal or one of my unpublished poetry books, but i know i’m not the only one who will find themselves in her.
so here you go. “little girl” or “little boy,” this is for you. this is for those of you that ran into the rat race full force and realized after entering that there are no winners. this is for those of you whose life feels like a blur from monday mornings to friday afternoons. this is for those of you who want a change of scenery but can’t afford it, a change of pace but don’t know where to go. this is for those of you that are strapped into the cars behind me on this ride. we won’t be here forever, guys. like my Dad has been teaching me (and if you didn’t catch it, “Dad” is God hehe), this ride isn’t idle, it’s about learning to rest. it’s being okay with everything you do not being about get further, faster, higher, richer, happier, more important, more fill-in-the-blank-with-what-you’re-chasing. your Dad is on this ride with you. our Dad is on this ride with us. so let’s learn to slow down, be okay with a temporary change of pace, and simply enjoy his company.