It seems like one of the significant accomplishments between childhood and adulthood is the mastery of fear. I can remember spending the night at my grandparents’ house, which seemed cavernous, old, and full of ghosts, and being more afraid of the dark in those moments than in any other. I used to memorize where all of the light switches were on the wall. That way, when I needed to go into a room, I could stick my arm into the inky blackness and trace my fingers along the wall until I found the switch.
I’m no longer afraid of the dark, but I don’t like to ride crazy amusement park rides. I don’t know that I could fully admit that I’m scared, but my equilibrium and my stomach would undoubtedly admit to a full-fledged fear. However, when I look at all of these kids being slung in three different directions at once, faces full of electricity, I’m jealous.
Something is thrilling about being a child and jumping on to a large piece of machinery that slings you about with abandon. You lift your hands into the air and let it take you where it may. The only goal is not to throw up, which should be a goal in just about every situation. This is, of course, in spite of filling your gut with cotton candy, caramel apples, foot-long corn dogs, and deep-fried Oreos. Man, don’t you just love carnival food.
So this morning, waking up with a carb and sugar-induced hangover, I got online and saw dozens of photos of people flying about through the air. Some of them covered in smiles and laughter and others with their eyes squeezed shut as tight as they can trying to bear the fear to the end. I know I witnessed this several times last night. I was amazed at how that fear would melt from faces and be replaced with joy and amazement, probably because despite their thoughts seconds before, they survived.
There’s a nugget of wisdom somewhere in that moment, that playfulness and excitement can make fear disappear entirely. It reminds me of the moments after my wife gave birth to our firstborn. She had experienced a ridiculous number of hours of labor, and the moment she saw our son … forgotten.
So mastery is probably the wrong word, but perhaps understanding is a better one. It’s time to look for the fun and enjoy the electricity of excitement that we have when we just let loose and play like we did when we were kids. I don’t know who said it, but man it rings true, “Sing like no one is listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching, and live like it’s heaven on earth.”