I love roller coasters, so much so that I went to what is considered the roller coaster capital of the United States a few years ago. Cedar Point, in Ohio, has 16 roller coasters (tied with Canada's Wonderland for the 2nd most roller coasters in the world!). My favorite ride is the Top Thrill Dragster. This coaster goes from 0-120 miles per hour in under 4 seconds and climbs to 420 feet in the air. It was ridiculously fast and scary (I cried a little on that one).
But one ride changed my life forever! It was the Gravitron (pictured below). This ride isn't at Cedar Point (neither is it a roller coaster). Instead, it was at the Sumter County Fair. I was in 7th or 8th grade and I remember that moment in time like it was yesterday. Just before getting on ride, I can remember eating a slice of pepperoni pizza and drinking a coke. As soon as I finished eating, I jumped on the ride with my cousin. The ride started spinning wildly and out of control. What also started spinning was that pepperoni and coke. I was terrified and I yelled trying to get the operator to stop the ride but he just smiled as if he didn't care. The ride eventually stopped. When I made it off the ride, I was like a human fountain of coke, pepperoni, and cheese. It was coming out of my mouth, nose (yes, pepperoni & cheese coming out of my nose), and even my ears (well, not really my ears). It was so terrible and I was sick for the rest of the night. That was easily one of the most traumatic experiences of my life.
Life is very similar to a series of roller coasters. Keep on living and you'll find many twists, turns, flips, thrills, rewards, and disappointments. One minute you'll be on top of the world and the next minute you'll be at extreme lows. Love them or hate them, you will have to ride them. The best thing you can do is prepare for the ride (by not eating pepperoni pizza and drinking coke right before getting on the ride). Get a riding buddy to ride with you. Then just hang on for dear life and wait for the ride to end. You do know that eventually the ride ends, right? Screaming, yelling, crying, cursing, and even praying won't make the ride end quicker (although praying is not a bad thing). You should also know that roller coasters aren't designed to kill people. I would say that nearly 99.9% (I just made up that stat) of people that ride roller coasters make it off alive. Only extreme and catastrophic cases end in tragedy. In the same way, life's roller coasters aren't designed to kill you. They shake you up a bit, make you a little dizzy, and scare you but hang on and know that the ride will eventually stop and you can get off. Trust me!
Written 10/27/2013 by John Weaver