The ferris wheels has taught me two things, new things that look scary can be thrilling and the ride serves as a nice metaphor for life.
My two daughters, five and three years old, and I rode the ferris wheel at our county fair this year. Our older daughter had also ridden it last year but was somewhat timid when she first saw it and began talking about the other rides she wanted to do. Our younger daughter was dead set against it until she saw that her sister was having fun and that she might want to get in on the action. I didn’t really want to ride anything but some of the rides required adult supervision and I was the chosen one.
The girls and I entered the ferris wheel, which like all other ferris wheels looks like it was made at least seventy years ago. We were buckled into the seat, warned not to swing, and began to glide backwards into the afternoon sky. The first trip up both girls were none too thrilled. They weren’t scared but they weren’t embracing their elevation. After a few laps around they began to enjoy it more. At the top they quickly listed all the things they could see. On our descents they listed all the people they could see. When we stopped they asked why we were stopping, who were in the other cars, and all the other questions that queued up when they weren’t listing things. I answered to the best of my ability as I tried to limit our seat from swinging.
We did a number of rotations, I lost count, and it was enough for me but as our seat slowed, docked, and was opened the girls asked if they could go on again. We rode it many times that day but not until I listed the other things they might like to ride.
As the kids were heading towards the next candy colored spinning or sliding ride I thought about our time on the ferris wheel. The ups and downs of it. Those ups and downs match parts of our life easily but there’s more. On the ferris wheel there are times when you have a great view and times you don’t. Riding up all you really see is the mechanics of it. The motor, arms, and lights. You need to peek through and among things to see anything else. This is like the time in our lives when we need to work. We need to put in time to learn or do so that when the view changes we get to reap the rewards, a panoramic view. It’s the highest point at the fair and you can see everything laid out. During the descent you get to continue a great view but also know that it’s over and you can’t get it back until the next time around.
The ferris wheel also keeps you facing forward. You can turn around during those mechanical views, the panoramic views, and the decent views but it’s not easy and somewhat uncomfortable. Life’s like that too. Looking back too much isn’t going to help where you’re at. Instead it’s nice to glance that way once in a while but most comfortable to move forwards.
The ferris wheel also stops to load other passengers. Sometimes this means you get a great view and sometimes not a great one. This isn’t up to you. There are external forces controlling some part of the ride and you need to wait until it begins again. But you do get to choose how much you enjoy the ride. Both of our daughters were so thrilled that during our final ride they each held their hands in the air in a demonstration of their daring. Like this was the zenith of thrill rides and they weren’t going to let a little thing like holding on prevent them from the thrill of it.
We did other things at the fair too. We rode the merry-go-round, the slides, and ran through the fun house. We ate funnel cakes, french fries, and corn dogs. We saw pigs, chickens, and cows. We don’t regularly have fun houses, corn dogs, and cows in our lives – these are special fair only things – but we do have the metaphorical ferris wheel. The wheel of time that turns, that keeps us on until we get off. The ride that is controlled but we choose how we want to experience those highs and lows, the ups and downs.
What I really learned was that the ferris wheel is my life and to enjoy the ride with my kids.