Learn To Ride the RollerCoaster

After my scramble for a topic a couple weeks ago I was prepared this week, or so I thought. During the last two weeks I had about three or more topics running simultaneously. Well, you know, best laid plans and all, everything fell through while having a great experience with one of my girls at an amusement park. The night before I had a minor disagreement with my former spouse. Nothing major, we just were not seeing eye to eye, but while running (literally) around the park with my little girl hoping on and off almost every ride in sight, my mind began making correlations to my blended family situation and I knew I would have to push all of the other planned topics to the side. Hey, at least I know I have some potential material for later.

Some of the rides we enjoyed together, a few we went on multiple times. There was one ride that I really was not thrilled about. This of course was one she REALLY just had to go on. It was, of course, one of those log rides that you will inevitably get wet on at the end whether you like it or not and I had no desire to get wet, none at all. I avoided it for as long as possible, but that little one is very persuasive, puppy eyes and all. Finally I agreed to a single ride and immediately claimed the back seat hoping to duck behind the seat in front of me and avoiding the onslaught of moisture at the end of the ride. Again my plans fell through and I ended up catching more water than she did and she laughed with delight. To be honest that alone made my day and the wet clothes did not bother me a bit. So I thought about a few things and I hope they will help you get through that ride you really don’t want to get on…

You Don’t Have to Enjoy it… But You’ll Have to Learn to Cope

The reality is that you are going to have to learn how to handle each ride that comes your way. Believe me they will come, hopefully not very frequently, but you will have your fair share of roller coaster rides. Some are like the kid friendly rides at the park and we can handle those just fine. However, other’s are more like the stomach busting, heart stopping monsters that draw the longest lines. You’re gonna get on that ride one day whether you like it or not and you’re better off learning to strap in, hang on and get over it when its done. So here goes.

Don’t Feed the Ride

I’m thankful that I have never been on a ride where I was the unfortunate recipient of someone’s rejected lunch, but i know some people that have not been as fortunate. My daughter and I had a good laugh about the splash guards protecting the ride operators. At first she did not understand what they were for, but when I explained it she laughed and pointed at the spots on one of them.

Most people know how to structure their day at the amusement park so that they either have not eaten or have let enough time pass after a meal before venturing onto the major rides. The Roller-coasters of blended families are a little different because usually they are unplanned. There are so many parties in play, between the kids, the spouse and the former spouses, your next ride can come from anywhere. The meal in this case is worry. Yup, worry will have you spending massive amounts of time and energy for nothing. Let’s face it. Thinking about all of the possible scenarios that could happen and wondering about the millions of potential outcomes could quite literally consume you and spit you out. Don’t feed the ride, learn to deal with it logically and actively when it comes. That leads me to my next point…

It Most Likely Won’t Kill You

Chances are pretty good that you’re not going to die on this ride. After all you pulled that bar down and the attendant checked the safety belt that’s supposed to hold everything together right? Sure, the thing is designed to scare the mess out of you, and that’s why we love them (the literal ride that is). There’s a pretty good chance that at this point there’s not a ride out there that you haven’t had some version of already. But, if you’re brand new to this, or on your way to being new to this, take heart. Trust me when I tell you that you’ll be just fine.

There are, however, a couple of safety checks you’ll have to do first. The first is ‘Know Thyself.’ Yes, we’ve all passed through that awkward preteen, teenage to adult phase and thought we had a pretty good handle on who we are. Fortunately (or unfortunately), however you choose to look at it, we continue to change and evolve. Keep tabs on how you are changing. Make sure you are taking time regularly for self checkups. Everyone needs a little introspection. Knowing yourself will go a long way toward helping you understand what will be acceptable outcomes for any ride you may find yourself on. It will also help you to accurately identify your limits (getting into the value of knowing limits is a whole other topic).

The second is, ‘Check Your Motives.’ Let’s be real, sometimes we (meaning everyone) can be a little selfish. We want things to work out best for us and that would be ok, I guess, if you were in this thing all alone, but you’re not. You have several other feelings, perspectives and opinions to consider and you’re going to have to find a way to make it all work. They say that you know a good compromise when no one walks away from the table entirely thrilled. You may not like it, but you’ll have to get used to it. If you play to win with every coaster that comes your way, in the end you will lose. So, check self at the door and be prepared to look out for the best interests of everyone involved. Feel free to try to win, but you’ve been warned…

Not All Coasters are Bad

One of my friends, who will remain nameless for their ‘protection’ or mine…, has been described by others as living in constant turmoil and they question whether said friend actually enjoys constantly being on a roller coaster ride. Really and truly I hope that’s not the case, perhaps this friend hasn’t learned how to ride the coaster yet, but maybe they do enjoy the rides. I’m not suggesting that you should learn to enjoy the ride too, but I am suggesting that not all of the coasters are bad.

Believe it or not there’s quite a bit you can learn from a roller coaster ride. I’ve been on one or two in my life time where I legitimately questioned the possibility of survival. It always seems to be the older wooden rides where the cars may or may not always be in contact with the track, or there are questions about the age, stability and/or health of the wood supporting it all. Whatever the case I seem to end up on the ride anyway (I’m a bit of a thrill junkie, if you haven’t figured that out yet… so is the daughter with me on this adventure). These times of questioning is a time to ‘Know Thyself’ or at least know your limits. You may not be able to handle the heart stopping potential of the wooden beast and if that’s the case, acknowledge that and don’t get on. Here’s a tip… I’ve never been to a park where they won’t let you change your mind and walk right through to the exit. So, if you are getting on a ride and you know it will exceed your limits, walk right through to the exit.

If, however, you do decide to take the ride remember it won’t kill you, you’ve done your safety checks and you should be able to cope. When its done you’ll have the opportunity to reflect. Perhaps during one of your regularly scheduled self checkups (see how important these things are). It will be an opportunity to figure out what you’ve learned about yourself from that particular ride. At the very least it will reinforce some ideas you already had about yourself.

The Ride is Short and the Park is Huge

Finally, remember the ride you’re about to get on is short. Let’s get some perspective, my divorce proceedings from start to finish took twenty (20) months. At the time it was horrible, it felt like forever, and I certainly didn’t know as much about myself as I know now. In the grand scheme of things though, it’s not a very long time. I’ve been on earth more than 20 times that, and hope to be around much longer. My point is this, there’s much more to life than these rides. Some are longer than others and some more intense, but they all end. When they end, let them end. Don’t waste your time dwelling on how horrible the ride was or else you may end up like my friend who seems to be in constant turmoil.

In the amusement park of life there is so much more than just the roller coasters. There are carnival games, arcades, funnel cakes, cotton candy and SO much more. If you get stuck sitting on a bench either feeding the ride to come or lamenting about the one you just got off, you’ll miss precious time with all of the other wonderful things there are to enjoy. For me, time is precious. I don’t always get as much as I want with the people I love, but when I do I make the most of it. Sometimes that means learning to put some things on the shelf in your mind and dealing with them appropriately later. I will offer one word of caution here though, don’t forget to deal with the things on your shelf. Remember most of all quality always trumps quantity, so when you have the time maximize it squeeze it for every ounce of goodness that it can offer. That works for time with the ones you love and the times you spend alone as well.

Final Thought

There’s no fool proof way of getting through these rides, but I think this is a pretty good place to start. Each ride is a little different and will have to be approached that way, even if you think you’ve been on this one before. You’ve changed and the people on the ride have changed too. They may not be doing their safety checks or they may be feeding the ride. Whatever the case, be sure that you are doing what you have to to cope and learn what you can from the ride. Most of all remember the ride will end and all of the more beautiful things of life will be there for you to enjoy. Enjoy the park.

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