I am not a fan of roller coasters (not a good opening line, I know). I have this stupid fear of height and the thought of riding all the way through that vertical loop makes me uncomfortable. I know that there’s physics involved, but roller coasters seemed to me like a daredevil act of flirting with death.
But on my latest visit to Dufan couple weeks ago, things changed. I bucked up and allowed myself to be overwhelmed by fear, getting excited but scared at the same time, not to mention having sweaty palms over thinking that there was a possibility that in the next two minutes or so I might be dead because the safety strap would snap off and I would helplessly fall to the cruel pull of gravity.
Nevertheless, I got in the line and when my turn was up, I felt a familiar overwhelming rush of adrenaline (I’m no fan of adrenaline rush either). At the moment I strapped myself in on my seat, I trembled.
“It’s your last day on earth, man,” I heard my self said. (And yes, I’m this lebay*) Didn’t help. The fear was still there. “I’m going to die.”
When the engine started and the cars moved, I knew that there was no turning back. As I listened to the gut-wrenching rattle sound, I scoffed the thought away: “Come on. You never really know, right?”
So, I decided to admit to myself that I was scared shitless. And then the strangest thing happened.
When I acknowledged the fear, I was no longer afraid. It turned out that I got really excited about the ride. Normally, I would tightly grip the chest strap with my mightiest strength, hoping I wouldn’t fall off from the car when it’s upside down on the loop. No, I was all hands in the air like I didn’t care (thanks Miley).
It was totally weird! I managed the biggest grin ever. And it was crazy too! I even giggled and whee-ed my way to the peak and through the loop. Meanwhile, my friend sitting beside me was all screaming and shouting like she’s being dragged to hell by demons.
It was the most enjoyable roller coasters ride I’ve ever experienced.
But you know, actually, there was a moment before the ride that seemed to stretch over a long span of time. In that moment, right after I put on the strap and the belt, my mind was filled with two things: Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost and Schrodinger’s cat.
I remembered there was this passage in the book where Miss Solnit discussed about worrying and and the unknown.
To imagine that you know, to populate the unknown with projections, is very different from knowing that you don’t … Worry is a way to pretend that you have knowledge or control over what you don’t–and it surprises me, even in myself, how much we prefer ugly scenarios to the pure unknown.
This hit me hard. I realized that I filled my head with the scenarios of my own death (told you, I’m this lebay) when I never knew what the future held for me that day.
Which then brought me to Schrodinger’s cat. You know the theory: in the next 5 minutes, I might be both alive and dead. The safety strap across my chest might be both intact and off. The electricity that powered the system might both run and go out when the coasters on the vertical loop. The gravity might be both there and gone (okay, maybe not that random).
This was what really liberated me from my fear. This was what helped me accepting the fact that I am the master of mostly what makes me myself and the rest is beyond my command. The thing about the future is that it’s unforeseeable. Maybe I would be dead or I would get through this ride again safely, like I usually did (yes, it was not my first time riding Halilintar, but still…). Why worry?
You never really know till you’ve tried, all I’m saying.
Kudos to Miss Solnit. And here’s to you, Schrodinger.
Featured image courtesy of Google Image.
*Lebay (adj.) cheesy term used to describe annoying person who exaggerates things.