Thursday, August 31, 2006

Roller Coaster Hell

I think I mentioned we went to Alton Towers while we were away. This is something new for me, I’ve never been a connoisseur of roller coasters. I have mild vertigo, and its always seemed odd to me to put myself in a position of activating that for “fun”. LL loves them, the faster, the wilder, the better. Ali Baba takes after her in that way, and I suspect the Princess will soon follow when she has a couple more inches of height. Pirate Pete takes after me, it all looks pretty scary.

So, to help him with his fear I’ve had to jettison mine. To let him try it and see if he enjoys it I had to be there beside him. Its been a good exercise for me, and though I can’t say I’ll ever be a roller coaster addict, once out of the trenches its not so bad.

In my teens, for an essay question I took a stab at answering what courage was. My feeble attempt was to pen that courage was doing what you know is right despite your fear. I have to admit, trying to classify going on a roller coaster as courageous is more than a little daft, but the essence is there. I knew my son found the things scary. I wanted him to do it, despite finding it scary, then see if he enjoyed it or not. To do that, I had to do it myself.

We’d had a few talks about this, and I had told him I didn’t like roller coasters either. The first breakthrough was at Lego Land when we tried some more mild versions and he found he liked it. The Alton Towers versions are a whole different kettle of fish.

So, to help him, I helped myself and just did them. Some where all right, if you know the place Air is this roller coaster that either has you on your back or hanging horizontally upside down. That one I liked, it was the feeling of controlled speed, something I always like, that did it. Oblivion was another matter. For the uninitiated, it’s a very short ride, but what it does is take you up to a hundred feet or so, then drops you vertically, face first, into a black hole before tossing you about a bit.

My wife thought I was stark raving mad, but I set myself a goal of calmness. To take the ride and not let my heart rate increase, and to do it with eyes open. Roller coasters as a form of meditation is something my father would have found hilarious, but would have approved of. I did it too, hung over the edge and took the plunge, yet kept my heart rate calm. LL thought that daft, the point is the adrenalin rush. For this time, I disagreed, but maybe next.

Pirate Pete? He did very well, took one of them that tossed him upside down in a look the loop. He wasn’t sure he liked that part, but he liked the rest of it. Next year he’ll be tall enough for the big rides. Will he do them? I await with pleasure to see. He may, and he may not, but now he knows he can.


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