Roller Coaster

My first son was born a short time ago. When he was lying in the baby warmer being weighed I was looking at him and thinking about how he had been allotted roughly 100 years of life. When that first 24 hours was over I was thinking how 100 years seemed like such a small amount of time and how already one day was gone. They pass so easily and as I’ve gotten older the weeks and months start passing by faster and faster. I thought of how a quarter or more of my time here on earth is gone.  It scared me that I’m already that far along. Had I wasted my time here so far? Could I have used it in a better way? Do I have regrets?

I’ve heard a great analogy about life as a roller coaster. When we enter into life or a roller-coaster we step onto this ride knowing that we are going to be experiencing a wide range of ups and downs. But we step onto it knowing that it’s just a ride, that it’s only temporary and that we made a choice to be on it. When we experience the thrills or fear of the ride, it feels real through our whole body, but we know that the ride will come to an end and that we’ll be let off safe and sound back where we began.  

It helps me to think of this when times get tough. It’s very easy when life isn’t treating you well to feel like your whole world is crashing down and that this one bad experience will ruin you forever. When I look at life like a ride, it helps me to step back. I remind myself that I chose to experience these emotions and hardships. I know it’s only temporary and I know that in the end I will return back to where I began. In this perspective it seems less serious and grave. I don’t have to worry about “wasting” days or losing time. I don’t have to worry about my success or regrets. I’m just experiencing the ride, and in the end I’ll be getting off none the worse for wear.  

When I look at my boy I hope he doesn't take life too seriously. I hope he enjoys it and realizes that it is only a ride and the ups and downs and thrills and spills of everyday life are just temporary. As long as he's happy and serving others for the majority of it, it's time well spent. It's too short to be spent dwelling on worries and pain. It's just a ride; there are bigger and broader things out there. Eventually in 100 years or so he'll be undoing his lap bar and stepping off of it like all of us do. As long as he's learned a few lessons for what’s next, and as Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it “knows that even one life has breathed easier because he has lived.” He’ll have succeeded in my book; and if not, I'm a believer in do-overs :)