Ride On

It is the suspense of knowing something big is going to happen, but not knowing exactly what. It shoots me up, knocks me down, spins me around and upside-down. It can make me sick. It can be exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. It can make me lose my sense of self, and plays tricks on my center of gravity. It’s only fun if I’m looking forward; looking backwards can be dangerous. It makes me want to scream. It makes me want to barf. If I want to survive, I have to know the rules. It goes way too fast. And when it’s all over, I’ll end up back at the same place I started.

Life is like a roller coaster. This might mean different things to different people, but I think we can all relate, one way or another.

Once in a while I find a little peace and manage to escape the incessant chaos, take a break, and resolve to find a quiet place, to make plans that would enable me to stay there for a while. But, for some reason, when the train comes around again I can’t resist. It convinces me that my escape plans are audacious, even contemptuous. I jump back on and ride it again. Part of me is addicted to the chaos, to the possibility that I can somehow tame it, that the next time around the ride I will finally be able to assert my control over it. Driven like an egomaniac mad magician, I keep thinking that one more small adjustment to my calculations, one final tweak to my routine, one last hurdle to overcome, and I’ll finally get it right.

But the ride is alive, and it is smarter than I am. It keeps evolving and changing as I do, but remains one step ahead, forever twisting, adding another unexpected loop here, another surprising, gut-dropping fall there. It denies and resists my attempts to tame and control it; just when I am about to feel secure in my mastery of a certain aspect of life, it shifts, forcing me to retreat, regroup and reevaluate before I jump back on the ride to try again. It keeps that elusive state of absolute certainty and security just beyond my grasp – close enough to tempt me into thinking I can get there, but far enough to keep me honest, if I want to be.

It toy with me. When things are propelling forward beyond my control, I desperately want to jump off and escape. When things finally slow down, I convince myself that I’m stuck, frustrated by my inability to get back on the ride, that I have to wait in line for the train to come back around my way. The insanity does not take a vacation.

At the end of the day, it seems like a crazy ride that goes nowhere. The linear progression of it is difficult to discern, and matters only to its architect. So it is not the destination that is most important, but how I live my life along the way. Happiness, therefore, is not a goal I live my life in order to attain, and life is not the road I happen to traverse on my way to achieving happiness. Happiness is a state of mind, a state of being. Happiness itself is the road I need to be traveling on. Happiness is the means through which goals and dreams are achieved, not the result of them. Don’t live life in order to enjoy the ride. Enjoy the ride in order to live life. Enjoy the ride.

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