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Wednesday, November 6, 2013


There is a ride in numerous amusement parks which is essentially a giant swing with a harness.  At Kennywood, it’s called The Skycoaster.  At Cedar Point, it’s called Ripcord.

The concept is simply this.  Up to three riders where a harness apparatus, much like you are Cyrus the Virus from Con Air.  You get strapped to a winch and are raised in the air 180 or so feet in the air.  At the top of the arch, you sit and wait for the “all clear”.  Once that is given, one rider pulls a “ripcord”,  you free fall, and swing in a downward arc, back and forth.

You spend more time on the climb than you do on the fall.  

That fear.  That anxiety of knowing where you are headed.    There is pretty much no real danger in what you are about to do, but that fear of climbing to such a scary height and waiting to pull that cord is scarier than the actual fall will ever be.  And what is it that you are so afraid of up there?

Falling.  The fear that it won’t stop.  The fear that everything will break apart and you will hit the ground like a bullet.  Your insides will essentially be pushed through the top of your being.  Not to mention, anyone with you.   I mean, they might have agreed to go through this, maybe even paid for their share.    However, in the end, it was your decision.  They might have pushed you into it, but you are just as responsible for being strapped into this apparatus and suspended over the Earth, without a net.   Being given that ripcord is a big responsibility.   Sometimes that’s the biggest fear; actually pulling it.  And by now, you are stuck and the other person is regretting their decision, but it’s too late for that.

Everyone on the ground is looking at you, telling you to do it.    Even the ride operators are giving you that chance before they have to manually bring you down.  How embarrassing is that.   That’s one of the biggest problems, though isn’t it.   You got yourself here and now you’re looking for someone else to do the work.  You’re the one who wanted to do this and now that it’s time and everyone else is telling you to do it, you’ve suddenly shrunk back into the harness like a turtle in its shell.  

Then, you look at the person with you and see the fear in them.  Now there’s a ton of reasons to not pull the cord.    Maybe, if you just stay there for awhile, they will stop being afraid.   Maybe, the cord will just pull itself.   Maybe there will be a huge issue and the ride operators need to bring you back down for your own safety. 

That’s when the adrenaline kicks in and you realize that everything in your soul says “PULL IT!”   There’s never going to be a perfect moment to free fall.   A thousand things can go wrong and kill you.   You are now responsible for yourself and the other rider.   They flat out refuse to let you do it but you know you can’t stay here.  Yes, you came up here for a reason, but the problem is, you don’t belong up here anymore.   You need to get back on the ground where everything makes sense. 

The other rider still looks at you in fear and even though you assure them it’s the best thing to do, they look at you as if this some sort of selfish act.    “No, up here, I’m safe.  We’re strapped in tight.  If you pull that cord, you will kill us.”  But you know the fear is only for a moment.   You’re just as safe up there as you are after pulling the cord.  It’s all part of the same thing.  But staying up there is not good for anyone.  Eventually, you have to come down, though.    





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