Recently, I went with five friends and family members to Magic Mountain (MM). I’ve been to MM twice in the last ten or 15 years. I used to be IN-LOVE with roller coasters. The bigger the better. The faster the higher the orgasmic thrill.
Nowadays I don’t know if they’re the devil out to punish the foolish or an angel in disguise that likes to fuck with people. Right when I board I break out into manic giggling. This evolves into a cackle that rivals The Joker, as I incessantly yell profanities because I realize this is fucking ridiculous. One of my friends asked, “If you don’t love them, why do you ride them?” My response, “I find it hilarious that it reminds me that this shit (life and everything in it) is crazy and we’re all going to die.”
Someone suggests we go on The New Revolution (TNR). I’m clueless, as most of us were, about this new ride. He tells us it’s a virtual reality (VR) roller coaster. Bemused, we wonder why came to MM to sit in a room to do a VR ride. He quickly expounds that’s it’s a typical roller coaster but we’re wearing a VR headset.
As we waited in line for TNR (which had the longest wait time the entire day!), we theorized why one would come to MM to experience the realness of getting the shit scared out of oneself to now go into some unreal alternative reality. Is the real thing not enough? I digress.
Finally! We get to the front where we collect these large VR head contraptions that looks like something out of a futuristic movie. Two women run this process; they do so with precision and ease. One lady handles headsets—let’s call her HW (headset woman). The other manages anxious, eager patrons—let’s call her LM (line manager). I saw HW pick up one of the VR headsets, look at it curiously, then put it back to grab a different one. LM sees a lane open up and tells me to grab the headset, the one HW put back, and take my place in the open lane. I pause. She points to the headset with emphasis, as she’s unclear if I understand her direction. I begin to object to the only available headset. She swiftly derails any attempt to hold up her smooth operating orchestra by placating, “It’s fine. Relax. I know what I’m doing.” Though unappeased, I acquiesce (which is rare). With a loud but silent protest, I take the headset.
We all board. Get strapped in. The two teens running this portion of the ride check our headsets for viability. And off we all go! Well…not all of us.
The VR experience is supposed to be Santa, in the driver seat of the sleigh. And each rider is an elf, sitting shotgun. Oh, and the sleigh is full of gifts we can see behind us.
And from what I can tell from all the yelling and laughter, an ‘unsatisfied’ elf (probably got screwed out of overtime pay) tries to derail Christmas by taking out the sleigh with fiery snowballs. Unfortunately, I didn’t experience any of this. I was sitting in a sleigh that never left the ground with a stoic Santa that never engaged. Instead, I was spinning around and around in my sleigh as the roller coaster was going up and down and all around. What was this ride’s slogan again? Oh—This Changes Everything.
As this was happening I had a couple of choices:
- Take off the headset
- Leave the headset on
- Vomit (spinning around and around in a fake sleigh full of gifts)
- Get angry
- Ask myself, “How is this like life?”
- All the above
I kept the headset on and allowed myself to be yanked and jostled on the outside of the VR experience as I spun in circles inside the VR experience. I did this as I listened to all the other riders, including my friends, seemingly having a grand ol’ time.
As I spun about I contemplated:
- Have I ever lived an experience in my head that was vastly different from what was going on in the moment, in the real world?
- Have I ever felt like an outsider? As I watched from the outside—hearing, believing everyone else was happy and experiencing something I couldn’t?
- Have I realized that I have the power to change those circumstances?
- If I realized I did have the power to change my circumstance, did I choose (though I may have felt like I didn’t have a choice) to do nothing?
- Do I accept the responsibilities for my circumstances? And how do I respond?
- What do I do next? Do I learn? Grow? Ignore? Be a victim? Blame? Shut down? Lie? Pretend I don’t care? Run? Chalk it up to Life? Or do nothing; continue on, in the same matter, as if stuck in an inevitable loop?
Unsettling as it was to feel and admit, I answered yes to all those questions and that did not sit well with me, not one bit. I was overwhelmed by the sadness, pain, the feeling of being left behind. I found myself resistant to admit that part of the life I’ve lived had been lived imbedded in lies. I wanted to lash out and condemn within; I contemplated burying this deep down so I didn’t have to confront the neglected child I safeguard to no end. The feelings of inadequacy I’ve never been good at releasing to the gods; I’ve always felt it was my duty as a man to wear them as a branding, to be proud of my scars. Now I know these moments of doubt, fear, the little boy in me unready to face the world, was a way for me to negate my responsibility for my own actions and how those creates my world.
Though none of this was particularly pleasurable, it was profoundly enlightening.
So once the ride was complete, I chose to ride the ride again. I told my friends they could wait or go on, I was fine either way. I was going to go get what was mine, and I wasn’t moving until I had my way. To the front of the line they whisked me like one with a VIP pass, I sat on the ride again, with everything working—AT LAST!
Now the ride, The New Revolution, was nothing I would ever do again. Not because of my first experience, but because the ride couldn’t compare to experiencing what a roller coaster innately has: camaraderie, landscapes, my senses at their height, the sun on my face and enveloped in every moment experiencing my life.
I once again had my mantra confirmed: This Changes Everything
I am the bearer of my proposed flight
I, alone, am responsible for how I focus my life
I am the one who must decide, and decide again
If I want to move forward or stay stuck from within
It is my choice how I proceed and how I (re)act
It is my internal belief that governs & overshadows what I perceive as fact.
So I choose to no longer allow that which is outside of me to determine my reins
For I willfully take ownership and set out to begin my reign