This past summer I visited a local theme park with my family. It was a small, quaint place that you would walk the entirely of in less than an hour – my kind of place!
After spending the first part of our visit wandering through the storybook village where we visited the tuffet of Little Miss Muffet and the home of the Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe, we found our way to the theme rides. Our kids are still on the small side of life, but they were just big enough to go on the big rides – something they’d never done before – so we started out small and went on the log ride.
I’ve never much liked amusement park rides. There’s something really scary and disconcerting about rushing down a steep, rickety-sounding track with nothing to keep me inside the cart but gravity. But this was a small ride with a line that lasted longer than the ride itself and from the looks of it was quite harmless. Plus we told the kids it would be fun, and my husband was truly excited to be going on a log ride – all things that far outweighed my dislike for steep downhill drops.
Once we got on the ride I felt both nervous and excited. My kids were also nervous and excited, and my husband was excited enough to cancel out any nervousness the rest of us felt. The ride moved along easily and when we came to the first little downhill we braced ourselves and scream-laughed all the way down. Soon we came to the last and final downhill, where at the end we would be deposited back at the beginning. As we started approaching the downhill we held on tight, and the screaming began before we even got there. I closed my eyes and lowered my head as my daughter braced herself right into my ribcage and cut off most of my air supply. My husband and son were in the front and they screamed their heads off while getting soaked all the way through. As we unloaded ourselves from the ride we were still laughing and smiling and shaking from the experience, and despite our initial trepidation and fear we all had a really fun time.
After our nerves calmed down a bit we bought ice cream and ate it on the Observation Deck, where we watched other families make the Log Ride voyage. As we watched the other families shoot down the big drop at the end we noticed that very few people screamed. Everyone but us seemed to be taking the log ride in stride, and at first I felt a little embarrassed at our outright fearful behavior. But I secretly knew that we couldn’t be the only people who went on that ride and felt the fear. We just happen to have found a bit of fun and relief in the act of screaming, even if it did make us look like wimps.
There’s something about screaming that opens up a channel in you to let the fear go. I’m not saying that everyone on that log ride should be as wimpy as I am, but I think more people live with fear than are willing to admit it. If you can’t feel the fear and embrace it then you can’t really enjoy the ride. Holding anxiety and fear inside only locks you down, and screaming, in all its primal glory, counteracts that shut down by allowing you to acknowledge your fear then let it pass through you and out of you. It’s a very obvious metaphor and can be applied to deeper fears too, like failure and rejection. We’ve all heard the phrase “Feel the fear and do it anyway” and I would like to add that screaming your head off is not only helpful when fear arises, it’s also really fun!