23 May, 2013

Conquering Towers

We just had dinner. Spending the past six hours in the amusement park walking long distances going from one ride to another had finally taken its toll on most of us, but I was totally against the idea of filling up our stomachs too soon. I was just as tired and hungry as they were, but I didn’t care since we still hadn’t gone to the Extreme Tower. I really wanted to go to the Extreme; I was the most excited for it. But I didn’t want to eat and then go free-fall from 200 feet in the air afterwards. I wasn’t going to pay for burgers and French fries only to throw it all up later.

Yet there I stood with the rest of them in front of the daunting tower under the night sky. All of our stomachs were full. Four of my friends were excited to go, totally neglecting the fact that they just ate, and immediately went in line. I was left outside with one who was afraid of heights, one who has vertigo, and one who has tried the ride before and didn’t want to do it again.

The Extreme Tower is an amusement ride where people are lifted up a large vertical structure to the top and then released to a free-fall. The process usually takes less than a minute: about 50 seconds of mental anguish as you see yourself getting higher and higher up in the air, seeing the landscape and the structures below you getting smaller, with the lingering fear and anticipation that you’re about to drop; and then the actual fall will be very quick, give or take maybe 2 seconds.

Describing it alone was already exhilarating. It was all I wanted to try.

The problem was I just ate and my biggest fear in life is the act of vomiting. I was never terrified of the ride.  I was worried I might experience that terrible nauseous feeling and then taste in my mouth that horrible acidic mixture of digested food and gastric fluid. It wasn’t going to be pleasant.

“So you’re not going, Ollie?” One of my friends who was standing beside me asked. I shook my head as we watched the group of people before us slowly rise above the ground. The ride was making its typical machine sounds. The lights of the tower were blinking, almost hypnotically. They were going up, up, and up. . .

“Too high,” I muttered, looking up. “That’s too high. Stop it, that’s too high!” I yelled. They weren’t even at the top of the tower just yet. They just kept going higher. That was when I realized I do have a slight fear of heights. I was certain it was no longer just the fact that I had dinner and I was afraid to vomit. I was thoroughly afraid of falling from that height.

“Chicken,” I heard my friend say. Then came the click sound signaling the halt, and then swoop, the ride plummeted. It was that quick. People barely had time to finish their screams, but they left their seats obviously awe-struck by the experience and walked to the exit with smiles and laughter. They were all glad they had done it.

That awakened the daredevil in me. I’m the kind of guy who likes to try different things that can make me happy, and seeing the joy in those people who took the ride greatly compelled me to go on, do what I wanted to do right there and not worry about anything. You only live once, baby.

YOLO sounds like a corny thing to say now only because of stupid teenagers who have used it as an excuse for making fools out of themselves, tarnishing the validity of such a valuable life philosophy. It is true that we only get to live one life, and it’s not proper to waste it with worries. I have faced more difficult situations in the past where I would get morally stuck in deciding whether to pursue doing something or not. Through all that I have learned that in a struggle of figuring out who you are, where you go and what you do, and weighing out the possible consequences of your actions, only one question shall aid reason to your judgment: “Why would you keep yourself from being happy?”

I was staring at the top of the tower. The lights were blinking. My heart was beating fast. Too fast.

“Screw it.” I dropped my backpack and left it with my friends, and then ran to the others who were already next in line. In the end I was glad I did it.

kudos to the brave.
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