One of the greatest tests of fortitude for a youngster is putting one’s hands in the air during a roller coaster. The handlebar in front of the seat is a safety net, a sense of control. Hold onto it and you might feel further from danger. Let go and you are inviting unnecessary risk into your ride.
There are a lot of things in the adult world that take the place of the metaphorical handlebar. Money. Sex. Power. It is there, right in front of us every day. Impossible to ignore. The world puts it in place to help us feel more comfortable. To give us a sense of control. And if the ride gets wild, we hold onto it with white knuckles.
If you ask a youngster why they love putting their hands in the air, they will likely say “it is more fun”. How can this be the case? It’s the same ride. And more dangerous, more unknown, more out of one’s control! Yet there does seem to be an element of joy that accompanies the risk, an element of freedom that comes in letting go.
Our life on earth is a short ride. It comes with twists and turns, surprises and drops. Holding the handlebar won’t change the ride. It won’t prevent the twists, the turns or the drops. It might make us feel more in control but it won’t fundamentally change the ride. If we adopt a true perspective, however, it can add to the fun.