Back in college, a close friend said that to me during a particularly sad period of my life. “Everyone gets a turn.” Something was incredibly comforting about that statement. In four words, it grounded my situation, made me feel not alone, and externalized a feeling into something with a definitive beginning and end. Many people have felt what you’ve felt and made it out just fine if not better. It’s temporary, so if anything.. “enjoy the ride.”
From that point, I sorta turned it into a weird philosophy of mine, and began seeing all emotions and situations as rides at an amusement park, something people literally have to take turns for. The park being my life and the rides covering all types of emotions. How’s that for a new take on the term “emotional rollercoaster”?
Some of my favorite rides & attractions? Well there’s awesome stuff like “Butterflies in my Stomach” Garden. “Reconnecting with an Old Friend” Bumper Cars. “Saying ‘I Love You’ for the First Time” Fireworks Show. But there’s also “Lost and Confused River Cruise” (that one has great mood music). “Heart full of Regret” Haunted House. And “Losing the girl you thought was the One” Wooden coaster (that one really makes you feel like you won’t make it out alive)
I started to see that in my own amusement park I wanted variety. Some people would probably avoid the scary, life-threatening coaster at all costs and just stay on the Dumbo ride all day, but I found myself getting very bored and tired of the easy rides if I were on them too long. I started to miss the thrill, the stomach in my chest, the Gs weighing me down.
In case you’re not following my strange analogy and metaphors… Basically when things in my life were going too well, I started craving struggle, sadness, and turmoil. I wanted “another turn” on the other rides. Don’t get me wrong, whenever I return to those lower places in my life I remember how much I hated it and I desperately want to get out. And maybe that’s it right there. Being down means there’s a clear goal of overcoming whatever you’re going through. Maybe I just crave the journey of recovery, the feeling of hope?
I acknowledge that this is very privileged thinking, which already makes me not want to share this post. I know I haven’t experienced the truly awful emotional rides yet, and some I never will, but isn’t all pain and struggle relative?
I think part of it is also just wanting to remind myself of that experience. No one goes only to Frontierland every time they visit Disneyland. No, you want to visit the other lands and rides. Even if you get there and you remember it wasn’t that fun, or maybe this ride was really, really painful- after years of not riding it, you’ll begin to wonder. Right?
So perhaps this is why I was so inspired and moved by “Inside Out”. Seeing the “islands” in her brain reminded me of my own amusement park. And Sadness’ strange desire to touch every orb and turn them blue reminded me of what I tend to do with my own life situations and memories. What is this fascination I have with blue orbs? Why don’t I just shut down certain rides and let them rust and crumble?
Why don’t I try to open up new rides? It’s like I’m living in a really old and dated park, when there’s a shiny and clean new one that has way better rides. But I’m so afraid of making that jump. Because, no matter how good Xbox and Six Flags is, I’ll always wanna jump on a swing or slide for the hell of it.
To try and end this entry with a bit of positivity, I think I’ll just bring it back to that opening phrase. If you’re going through a tough time, hopefully it makes you believe that things will get better. That you’ve gotten on this ride (a temporary one) that many others have been on before. It will be over sooner than you think and you’ll look back and say, “Hey, I got through it! And I’m a better, stronger person for it.” I guess this is why I always tell people when they’re sad to enjoy it. Because both ends of the emotional spectrum and everything in between should be valued. They provide us something unique, something you might miss, and honestly, you don’t know when you’ll get another turn.