Despite What You’ve Heard, Life is NOT Actually Like a Roller Coaster

I get closer to the front of the line. The shaking gets less containable. Is it obvious?

“Andy, are you alright?” comes the blurry question from somewhere in the background, “you’re being very quiet. Are you scared?”

I’m not sure I have the energy to reply. I’m concentrating. I’m thinking. I need to get myself through this. And they’re not the kinds of questions that will help.

Come on. It’s just a roller coaster. Millions of people ride these things every year. It’s just a ride. In five minutes it’ll be over. I’m not going to die. I’m not going to be hurt. This time tomorrow it’ll all be nothing but a distant memory.

“This too shall pass”

Roller Coaster

I’m sure you’ve heard it said that ‘life is like a roller coaster’.

Well it’s not.

I mean, if only it really was. Just imagine how nice it would be.

You would be able to see exactly where you were about to go, how long it is going to take, the speed at which you would need to travel each bit, who you were going to live it with. You can brace yourself, seeing the ups and downs, loop the loops and big scary drops before you have to experience them.

And you can be reassured that, barring some kind of electrical or mechanical fault with the earth you are pretty well guaranteed to stay on track the whole way. And you wind yourself back to the start in a nice controlled, complete, and resolved manner at the end.

When you think about it the metaphor of life being like a roller coaster doesn’t make much sense at all.

I reckon life is more like the process of building a roller coaster.

Each of us belongs to this massive amusement park called Space and Time. We all have a plot of land within it and the opportunity to design and build whatever we want on our bit of ground.

As we start to build our roller coasters we realise that there is a lot more involved than we initially thought, especially if we want to build bigger and more adventurous rides. So we ask other people for ideas. We help out on their rides and they help out on ours.

We draw up plans and set targets but it’s not always possible to stick to them.

Sometimes the weather changes, meaning that we have to put construction on hold. Sometimes one part takes a little longer than we expect. Sometimes we are off helping someone else. Sometimes we get injured. Sometimes we get tired. Some days we just don’t feel like doing anything.

But then at other times we make huge progress and our ride changes greatly within a short period. We have other people working with us on our ride, bringing us their expertise, support, and creative experience.

There are rides all throughout Space and Time. Every single one of them is different, and they stretch out far beyond what the eye can see.

There are big ones, small ones, fast ones, slow ones, crooked ones, creaky ones, strong ones, weak ones, humble ones, arrogant ones,. There are ones that stand out and tower above the others, and there are ones that look less impressive but could really pack a punch.

They don’t really get ridden much. Everyone’s too busy for that.

But they all have an enduring impact. Every ride continues to inspire and influence anyone building on a nearby plot of land.


Over to You

What kind of ride are you building? What stops you from constructing the next bit of track? Where is it about to go?

  1. Do you remember that a while ago, you wrote an article on puttylike, talking about how to interept silence on you blog? Well the feeling I get after reading that amazing post much like what you described their; so thought provoked, that I am not quite sure what to say, even after reflecting over it. So I think i just wanted to write and tell you that that was beautiful and incredibly true. You could describe live as an array of different items or situations, but you have just hit the nail on the head; the best description of life I have come across.
    Right now, I am looking up at everybody elses amazing roller coasters, then back at the patchy, half-finished pieces I have here, wondering how on earth I can create my own original roller coaster that creates a positive impact and is a good ride.
    Thank you for your wonderfulley inspiring and thought provoking blog, I admire your roller coaster a lot 🙂

    1. Annie! Thanks for your amazing comment. I remember that article yeah (I just went back to read it!) And it makes me appreciate your comment even more 🙂 You’re right, there are infinite metaphors we could use for life! It was hearing someone say to me something like ‘don’t worry, just remember that life is like a roller coaster’ and me thinking, ‘hang on a second, no it’s not’ that stimulated a thought process around ‘ok, well then if it’s not like a roller coaster, what IS it like?’

      You’ve nailed exactly how we all compare our own roller coaster with everyone else’s! You don’t realise the progress yours is making because you’re stuck in the middle of it. Your pieces are looking great. And in case you were wondering, your comment created a positive impact on my life this morning so thank you! Keep up the good work 🙂

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