The pink and purple spinning teacup ride at the amusement park creates an unprecedented anxiety in my insides. Even the slow mini-mine train ride strikes a terror that causes a rumble in my core. The background music plays as each person takes his or her seat on the ride. Light wispy tones vibrate in my ear and the beat almost pulls me into the highs and lows and spins of the mechanical contraptions. I stand back, not giving in to the laughter and screams of exuberance, while my husband and daughter strap themselves in for a few minutes of what I view as a ticket to losing control.
There is a palpable risk in surrendering to the anxiety of what you don’t know. An instructional guide or pamphlet is not tucked into the roller coaster ride. You will not know if the teacup will spin to left or right or faster or slower or whether the train ride will take a big dip or little dip or curve steep or lay low. Every maneuver carries a different reaction for the person riding it. For myself, as an observer, it is fear. For my husband and daughter it is fun. They don’t have to muster the courage before the risk, but I do.
So much of life lies in the courage before the risk. We all participate in the conscious and unconscious acts of courage. We drive, despite the accident rates. We fly, despite the potential for an act of terror. We confess our feelings to other people, revealing ourselves, but risking that we won’t be validated. We raise our children, knowing ultimately, we have to take the risk in letting them go. We live everyday, saying goodbye to our loved ones who have passed on, realizing that we will have to risk those same moments when we die.
There are times when I am unwilling to muster the courage, but the spinning teacup pops up in my head. My fear of rollercoasters offers a constant reminder to move forward. I realize that you can’t always stand back. It is easy to move through your routine everyday without taking a single risk. Before you even realize, you live a whole life of standing back.
There is no real living in observing. The courage comes from spinning in the tea cup and taking a sip of life.
Do you think about the courage that comes before taking a risk? Are risks something that scare you or push you to move forward? When have you demonstrated the courage that comes before the risk?
Image by ewen and donabel
Lovely post, Rudri. Wonderful metaphor and imagery.
We do need to participate, and courage is about overcoming fear. I have often found that anxiety is great before I actually execute or experience, and when I’m in the midst of something challenging, while I may still be afraid, it is less so.
Perhaps the fear beforehand encourages us to process on some level, and enables us to move ahead and take those risks?
But don’t underestimate the value in observation. It provides elements of learning we can reshape and use when make our move into action.
Yes. Once I am in the middle of the experience, I am less anxious. It is getting there that is the problem. I do think much value comes from observing, but do believe we must use this knowledge to eventually move into a course of action.
I think I have an odd relationship to risk. I have done some grand-scale things in my life that could certainly be seen as risky, but, in general, I tend to avoid risk. (My heart dropped into my stomach reading your first paragraph about the amusement park rides. Shudder.)
I think I come by this risk-embracing/risk-averse tendency honestly: my dad is an actuary and calculates odds and risks for a living. Despite understanding the relative risks of different forms of transportation, he refuses to fly.
He prefers driving, even though technically riskier, because he likes to feel in control – in that he seems to be like you and me.
I often think knowledge sometimes doesn’t empower us. It makes more aware of risks, fear and uncertainty. I believe I gravitate toward control. Even if I don’t understand all of the reasons.
Oh wow, I have never stepped foot onto a roller-coaster. Now I know why. I never thought of it as my fear of losing control. But Rudri, you put it in the words for me today. What a lovely post! I love it!
“There is no real living in observing”. But the unknown is oh-so-frightening. It’s still a constant learning process for me to really just “live”, instead of carefully calculating the risks to every move that I make…thanks for the reminder 🙂
It is a challenge to step foot on that roller coaster, but sometimes I believe you have to take the plunge. If you think about it, we are living everyday, with every step we take with uncertainty. Sometimes our awareness is more heightened in certain moments. Glad you liked the post.
I am very risk averse. I mean VERY. I have never been known for just leaping, and I wish I could. There are many changes I’d like to make in my life that require that leap of faith, but I haven’t found it inside myself to do it yet, so you’ve set me to thinking. I wonder how one gets there.
I wonder too Christine. If you find out, please let me know :)!
What a great analogy! Sometimes I must make myself spin a few moments at a time!
Maybe a few moments at a time is the way to go. Certainly not all at once!
I am such a control freak that I have anxiety when I don’t know what to expect. I remember having a job where I needed to drive around in a big city and find court houses and make use of their services. Not knowing where I was driving or where to go when I was there was incredibly intimidating and I recognized through these experiences that I just need to keep pushing through the discomfort to achieve. Life is, as you say, taking that sip of tea.
Cathy, I completely relate to your analogy about directions and finding locations. It especially causes anxiety when you are trying to make it on time. But as you said, you must push through the discomfort.
When you take a risk you never know where it will take you, but sometimes even mistakes lead us to good lessons that we are meant to learn. Good post,Rudri. My friend, take a sip when it’s possible and enjoy the journey.
Ayala: You raise an important reminder about mistakes offering us contributions. Sometimes we are unable to recognize it at the time, but perhaps it is place we are meant to be. I hope to take as many sips as I can.
Beautiful post, but every time I see the teacup rides I think of my mom. I was about 13 years old and went to the State Fair with her. She agreed to go on the ride with me, though it had barely started when she was already screaming to get off. The guy running it had to stop it because she was raising such a fuss, and I still make fun of her for it to this day. So I guess you could say my mom took the risk for me and suffered the consequences. Bless her heart.
Oh wow C. I don’t know if I could even do one of those teacup rides for my daughter. I am too fearful. I can understand the angst of your Mom. So relieved she could disembark before the heavy spinning begun.
I love “there’s no real courage in observing…”
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