Since all the kids were home from school last week, we decided to attempt a family chol hamoed trip. Trying to find a destination that will satisfy all ages, from teens to triplets, is no easy feat! With some convincing, we settled on the Nickelodeon amusement park at American Dream Mall.
Since I have a paralyzing fear of heights, we split up. I took the triplets around, and my wife went with the older kids. Taking the three little ones around is hard work, but I had a great time going on all the safe, slow baby rides. The carousel was my favorite!
But then my 8-year-old decided she wanted me to go on a ride with her. I asked which one, and she chose the swings. Well, swings sound safe enough, so I agreed. We got in line, and during the 45-minute wait I had ample time to observe and analyze, examine and fret. It seemed a little scarier than I had expected, but there were no ups and downs, just round and round, and I figured I could handle it.
So I hopped onto the ride, right next to my daughter Sara, psyching myself up. “You got this! You can do this!”
But then the ride began and my heart started pounding. It got higher and higher, then faster and faster, but when it started going up and down, that’s when all hell broke loose for me!
I started chanting every chapter of Psalms that I know and begged G-d to save my life. I made calculations about our survival chances based on where we might land, and how to best protect my daughter. We must have been 60 feet in the air!
Then every article I’ve ever read about amusement park rides gone wrong swam through my head. What if the swing snaps? What if we fall off?
My stomach was going up and down, and the faster we went the harder I prayed. “Stop! Please stop!” I begged. But of course no one could hear me over the ride.
Meanwhile, my daughter was having the time of her life!
When the ride finally stopped, I stumbled off, head spinning, trying to regain some iota of composure. I felt like I should stop and say Birkat Hagomel — the blessing said in front of the Torah to thank G-d for saving one’s life!
At the same time, I hear my daughter saying, “Tatty, Tatty, let’s go again!”
I realized she was serious and I muttered something about it being late and having to head home
But a little later, when my heart calmed and my head stopped spinning, I started thinking. How can it be that the very same ride produces such wildly different outcomes? For me, the ride was torture, I was sure I was dying. But for my daughter, the faster and higher it went, the more fun she was having.
This, I realized, is the story of our lives. We’re all here on the ride of life for 120 years. And it’s no smooth sailing kiddie ride. There are ups and downs, and spins of all sorts.
We can choose to enjoy it, or we can choose to dread it.
How is it that my daughter feels so free to enjoy the ride? Because she trusts its operation. She knows someone built it, someone is operating it, someone is in control. This allows her to sit back and enjoy the thrills.
We, too, know that Someone created the world. We know He is operating it and in control of every moment of every day.
There are bumps, definitely. There are volatile ups and downs globally and in our personal lives. And it’s all too easy to lose sight of the fact that G-d is running it all. But if we can tap into that knowledge, and really feel His involvement, we can sit back and enjoy the ride.