“You’re Chicken”

Anybody that knows me understands that I am not one of the bravest people on the planet.  I do not like speed so I avoid being in fast cars, speed boats and roller coasters.  Moreover, I am afraid of heights. I was terrified standing on the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada. You could not pay me enough to stand on that glass bottom.  Strangely, standing on top of a mountain or walking along a trail with a steep cliff beside me, I’m not afraid.  But put me on a roof to shingle it, I’m terrified.  My brothers, when asking for family members to help shingle a roof don’t even bother asking me because they know I’m useless due to my fear of heights.

disneyland-resort-logo-540154My wife loves anything Disney, so in 2004, we took a family vacation to spend time at Disneyland in California, U.S.A.  I will admit, to use the idiom,  that I was a “chicken”.  I refused to go on anything labelled a roller coaster.  That meant that the Space Mountain ride was out.  We were in line to experience the ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad when I noticed a sign stating that the ride was a roller coaster.  I questioned my wife about it and she assured me it was a very mild roller coaster.  So I went.  That was a one time experience though.  Then there is California Adventure Land. They have the California Screamin’, a huge roller coaster.  There was no way in hell that I was going on that.  Then there was the then newly opened The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride.  That is a ride that simulates an out of control elevator dropping.  That sounded just too terrifying for me, so I used my “I’ll pass” card.  Let’s face it, I am just a big chicken.

Three years ago, in 2013, my daughter volunteered in South Africa for two weeks with a group of university students.  She also spent two weeks traveling on safaris and experiencing Africa.  My daughter declared her  motto to be, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I’m going to experience all that I can.”  I was so proud of her.  She tried new foods such as crocodile, wildebeest, and warthogs. She went shark cage diving.  She did cliff diving, surfing and caving.  The list goes on and on. I thought she was incredibly brave.

clip-art-rollercoaster-347569That same year, my wife had a work related conference in Anaheim, California,  so we decided to make a vacation of it.  I, along with two of our children, went with her to once again experience Disneyland and California Adventure Land. So I thought, if my daughter can be brave and was willing to try new things in Africa, then I can be brave too.  My new motto for the trip was, “If my daughter can try new things, so can I”.  It was  carpe diem; “seize the day” for me. No one was going to accuse me of being chicken this time.  So off we went to experience the theme parks.

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Disneyland’s Tower of Terror

My wife loved Space Mountain, so I said, “I’ll try that.” I did but only once.  Then there was the The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror which I was terrified to go on in 2004.  Not this time.  While waiting in line, I’ll be honest, I was nervous, very nervous actually, but if my daughter could be brave so can I.  The ride turned out to be fun.  In fact, we went three more times after that. I drew the line at the huge roller coaster known as California Sceamin’.  My wife and son loved it.  My eldest daughter and I just waited for them.  She is a bit like her Dad. She is not overly brave but she did try most rides like me.

We also spent a day at Universal Studios in Hollywood, California. I am so proud of myself as I did the new Transformers: the ride 3D and Revenge of the Mummy: the Ride, both of which are a type of roller coaster.

So, I learned something on that trip.  It is okay to try new things; to have new experiences.  Sometimes we just have to face our fears and ‘seize the day’.  I made a deal with myself then to take some risks and to just go for it, although I do draw the line at extreme activities such a sky diving and parasailing. Author Neil Gaiman in The Graveyard Book, says, “If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.” That is so true!

The article, Seeking the potential vs the risk, in Huffpost Business says,

Taking risks empowers you to establish new limits in your mind. We all have boundaries or a comfort zone where we’d like to stay and many have misconstrued visions of what we think we deserve or are capable of accomplishing. When you take risks, you can eradicate that thinking, establish new boundaries, improve your outlook on life and your ability to achieve on high levels.

That is what happened to me. I like my comfort zones. In my mind I set limits like “no roller coasters” but when I decided to take risks, I eradicated those old limits and established new boundaries. I decided that I could handle some roller coasters and even an out of control elevator ride. So take some risks. Have some adventures in life. Life is too short to be scared. Helen Keller in her book,  The Open Door says, Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” I prefer to have adventures. You should too.

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Author: Sommer season all year

I am a retired school teacher. I taught high school for 35 years.