Facing Fear for a Year

Cheetah hunt
Cheetah Hunt, Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay
Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Last New Year’s Eve, I declared 2013 my Year to Conquer Fear. I set out to face at least one thing that I’m afraid to do each month throughout the year, then blog about it. I faced a good number of fears and blogged about them. I asked for a job, got a biopsy of that weird thing on my tongue, got back up on skates, read my poetry in public, and underwent a colonoscopy. I also faced fears that came upon me against my will, that I did not blog about: my mother’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s, my friend’s struggles with a substance-abusing family member, my fourteen-year-old getting lost in the city without his phone (he’s fine), and one horror-filled night spent in a house full of palmetto bugs. (If you don’t know what palmetto bugs are, think giant, flying cockroaches.)

At the end of 2013, I got the opportunity to face down a roller coaster. Busch Gardens of Tampa Bay puts on a lovely event called Christmas Town. After the park closes at night, it reopens, transformed by over a million twinkling lights, holiday music, performances, seasonal foods, and displays. It’s beautiful. Also, the rides are open.

My husband and I went to Christmas Town for our December wedding anniversary. When we first walked through the gates to simulated snow falling in 79 degree weather, I announced that I must ride a roller coaster in this Year to Conquer Fear. Throughout the night, we talked about it. Which one should I choose? SheiKra, with its 90 degree drop from 200 feet, was out. Scorpion hangs upside-down. That was definitely out. I felt so empowered. Roller coasters are perfectly safe. I could do this.

Admiring the ibises roosting in the trees, we talked about when supermodel Fabio got smacked in the face by a flying goose while riding a roller coaster. That was just a freak accident. That couldn’t happen to me. Even if it did, Fabio just got a little cut. He was okay. (The goose, sadly but mercifully, died on impact.)

See: Fabio Hit By Flying Bird on Apollo’s Chariot

My excitement mounted. Water rides were out. It was too cold to get wet. Gwazi is wooden, so that one was out. “Just five minutes of terror,” I said, “then a lifetime of victory.” We talked about those people who got stuck on a roller coaster at Universal Studios. They were well over 150 feet high, hanging there for…how long? Hours? The fire department had to come and rescue them, but no one got hurt. Roller coasters are perfectly safe.

 See: Riders stranded on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Orlando

I settled on Cheetah Hunt. It’s fast, but it doesn’t pause upside-down. At least, I don’t think it does. I walked to the entrance line. Then I looked up. It looked really scary. I wondered if the seat belts were sturdy, and what prevented it from flying off track, and how I would handle it if I were stuck for hours and the fire department had to rescue me. Roller coasters are perfectly safe. Except when, you know, they’re not. I grabbed my husband’s arm and ran away. Fail.

Blurry selfie from merry-go-round at Busch Gardens

I didn’t completely meet my goal in 2013. That doesn’t mean I won’t set a new goal for 2014. It also doesn’t mean that I didn’t conquer any fears this year. Life’s a journey, right? I didn’t come as far as I hoped, but I came farther than I would have if I had never tried. So, I’m counting it as a win. Don’t judge.

UPDATE: Roller coaster – Nailed it! Read the story HERE.

What about you? How did you do with your resolutions from 2013? Did you reach your goals? Do you plan to do anything differently in the coming New Year?

I know this is a First World Problem, but I’m toying with the idea of continuing the fear-conquering quest. I don’t want it to distract from moving forward with new goals, though. What do you think? Should I carry 2013’s resolution into the next year or focus entirely on a new thing?

 


3 thoughts on “Facing Fear for a Year

  1. I usually don’t set any New Years goals except to just have fun and enjoy yourself. I can understand your far of riding roller coasters as they’re quite scary but I’m proof positive that they’re quite safe as I’ve ridden over 150 roller coasters across the US. I’ve been on coasters ranging in heights from 20 feet to 456 feet and coasters with top speeds from 20 mph to 135 mph. Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure near Jackson, NJ is the worlds tallest at 456 feet and one of the worlds fastest at about 135 mph. Next time you feel daring, I’d recommend you start small and work your way up. You can either start at the kiddy coaster called Air Grover or the wild mouse coaster called Sand Serpant. If you like those two, then you can graduate to Cheetah Hunt or Scorpion, and then on to the big four, Gwazi, SheiKra, Kumba, or Montu.

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