The Roller Coaster Effect


roller coaster - tim gouw.jpg

Photo: Tim Gouw,

You know those weeks where nothing happens?


You are sitting in your usual seat on the roller coaster. The wheels clack, clack, clack on the track–pulling you up, up, up. Your body flattens against the back of the seat. You can see for miles, the view sweeping your breath away. You chuckle nervously with your coaster buddies, ignoring the fact that you are sitting hundreds of feet in the air and could likely fall out of your seat at any moment. Time suspends.

The roller coaster pauses at the top of the climb. Gusts of wind whip your hair. It’s cooler up here and calm. Very calm. You glance around, enjoying your view and pointing out spots of interest to fellow roller coaster people.

Then. It happens.

The roller coaster suddenly lurches over the edge of the climb.  It hurtles down, down, down. Your stomach and all of your lovely intestines are left hanging somewhere at the top of the climb while the rest of your body falls to the deepest low.

But it’s not over. You are now looped around and over and up and down. You scream, but the scream wrenches away from your mouth and echoes out over the valley, born on the wind. You clutch the harness and squeeze your eyes shut, then pop them open again.

And then. . .when you think you have screamed the rest of your insides out, the roller coaster straightens and slides back into the station, stopping abruptly and spewing fumes.

You have been there, I am certain–that roller coaster called life. All of us find a seat on that ride. And we simply try to remember how to breathe in and out and take one day, one hour, one minute at a time.

Once, many years ago (I won’t say how many), I penned the following:


life is fast and furious,

Events spilling out

One over another,

‘Til  your head



life is slow and dull,

The only sound

That of everyday, routine

Duties driving you



life is calm and peaceful,

Flowing along like

A lazy summer river,

With hardly a care



life is sure and sweet,

Never what you expected,

But intriguing and mysterious,

Just like it is

Supposed to be.


Simple words, but it was my attempt to describe my life at that moment. And it seems fitting now.

We cannot predict how our lives will unfold day by day, week by week. Often, I begin my week believing I will accomplish all I set my mind to do. (Like this post.) I am constantly reminded that I cannot finish all the goals listed on my little scrap of paper. (I seem to be fond of little scraps of paper. . .I find them everywhere, and then I wonder what happened to my schedule.) I must decide on a few goals and stick to those.

I must remember that life is a wild roller coaster ride sometimes. Intriguing. Mysterious. Need I say unpredictable?

Yet I think it’s more exciting that way–just like it is supposed to be.




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