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Riding the Roller Coaster of Life

It was Parenthood, the movie, with Steve Martin that has the famous quote from the Grandma about roller coasters.  She said,

“You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.”

“Oh?” Steve Martin’s character replied.

“Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!”

“What a great story.” he said.

Then she said, “I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.”

Harry once said to me.  The thing about my life is my highs are really high, but with them, you risk the really low lows.  But you just gotta pick up the pieces and try again.  He’s a risk taker for sure.  And I admire him so much.  My first husband was the type who would opt for the merry-go-round if he could, but not Harry.  It’s in his nature to go for it.  And Harry’s ride is now mine.  And I’m soaking it all in and enjoying it to its fullest!

And the thing is…you can want that merry-go-round all you want but your ride in life is made up of two things.  The track is the journey and whether its smooth or fast or bumpy and slow is the equipment you’ve been given.  It’s your personality, your skills, your body and mind.

One of my favorite roller coasters is Space Mountain because there are a lot of turns and it’s in the dark so they take you by surprise.  Since that ride was built for turns you can almost relax into them with the music playing in your ears and just enjoy the ride.  But on Thunder Mountain you better hold on because you will completely smash into the person you’re sitting next to.  And don’t even get me started about Matterhorn.  Every single time I ride it, I leave it with a headache because it’s so bumpy at every turn.

Sometimes we watch as others ride their ride and we sometimes think their life is so much better than ours.  But we shouldn’t think that way.

Harry is brilliant and strong.  And his ride has been epic so far.  And I can’t complain about mine either.  I seem to always land on my feet and have amazing things happen both good and bad.  One time, one of my Facebook friends said, “I love your life!”  And I have to say, so do I!  But even if you live a charmed life, it still has its own ups and downs.

Harry fell asleep at 6:30 last night and his eyes popped open at 1.  He worked for 8 hours in the Club and left for the client at 8:00 AM.  He was so fired up, and so motivated.  Of course, I was so excited for him.

Harry and I are headed up these days.  At this very moment, he is pitching cost to a long time client who has only been positive the entire week he’s been on site.  If they agree, Harry’s going to leave Pennsylvania with lots of money which he really needs.  He’s got so many irons in the fire and they are all good ones.  It makes me so excited for him because when we first met, he was at the lowest point in his professional career.  He had put all his eggs in a basket that was so big, he wasn’t sure he could manage lifting it off the ground.  I’ve seen him work harder than anyone I’ve ever known.  And now, all that work, is starting to pay off.

But this ride up is not one without turns that take us by surprise.  A few weeks ago all his equipment started to fail and he didn’t know why.  We think now that he was attacked by a virus of some sort.  We’ve had to deal with my health news too and that hasn’t been easy.  The day of my surgery he cleared his schedule and sat for hours in a hospital waiting room for me.  He even did the dishes that day!

But the thing about roller coasters is they never stop.  It’s not like you get to an intersection and get to rest for a while.  Whether you are going up, down, left, or right it just keeps going and you have to manage life in motion.  And sometimes the faster, sleeker rides make it harder to enjoy because things go by so fast at times all you can do is hold on.

I have a friend who just lost her husband of only one year.  They dated for about 9 years and knew each other from  high school, like Harry and I did.  They knew of each other, but didn’t know each other well back then.  It was only as adults, that they realized the love they could share.  His funeral was last week and now she is dealing for real with the loss.  All the little, daily things she used to do with her best friend are gone.  She’s wondering how to fill the void.  But she has four teenagers and there is no way to stop each day from slamming reality in her face.

Life just keeps going no matter how much we want it to stop to give us a break for a while.  We want the good times to last forever and we want to pause the bad times just so that we can catch our breath.  But life doesn’t work that way.

Remember that old Adam Sandler movie called Click?  He could speed up, slow down, or stop time.  And by the end of the movie he realized all the time that he skipped over, was time lost and he had regret.  I think God knows what he’s doing by making time constant for us humans.  We would not manage time well if we could manipulate it.

I think the grandma’s point is that instead of wishing for something you didn’t get (the Merry Go Round life) savor the one your on.  Attitude really is everything.  There is always going to be someone who is more successful, and more capable than you.  Life is not about peering over at them with disappointment.  You are on the track your on because it’s the one best suited for the equipment you’ve been given.  They are all fun and great in their own ways.  And sometimes life throws you things that are scary, and make us sick.  There are times when we all say, “I’m not built for this.”  That’s when you’re spirit has to kick in. Those are the times we need to hang onto each other and to God.

And grandma’s other point was that if life was even-keeled it would simply be boring.

My Harry just called to let me know he’s a happy boy because his client approved his plan.  This life we have is definitely NOT boring!  Looks like this hill we’re on is still heading up.  It’s one of those giant hills that you chug up slowly with lots of anticipation and thrill for the speed that will come once you hit the apex.  We just started, and there is a long way to go.  It’s as if I can hear the click, click, click of the car being pulled up the track. I’m sure that is how Harry feels too every morning he gets up so early to work a full day before his actual day starts.  But I’m so looking forward to being able to look over at him when we hit full-speed with the wind whipping my hair all over the place and squealing with a giant smile on my face! I can’t wait!  Bring it on!

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