The pink and purple spinning teacup ride at the amusement park creates an unprecedented anxiety in my insides. Even the slow mini-mine train ride strikes a terror that causes a rumble in my core. The background music plays as each person takes his or her seat on the ride. Light wispy tones vibrate in my ear and the beat almost pulls me into the highs and lows and spins of the mechanical contraptions.  I stand back, not giving in to the laughter and screams of exuberance, while my husband and daughter strap themselves in for a few minutes of what I view as a ticket to losing control.

There is a palpable risk in surrendering to the anxiety of what you don’t know. An instructional guide or pamphlet is not tucked into the roller coaster ride. You will not know if the teacup will spin to left or right or faster or slower or whether the train ride will take a big dip or little dip or curve steep or lay low. Every maneuver carries a different reaction for the person riding it. For myself, as an observer, it is fear. For my husband and daughter it is fun. They don’t have to muster the courage before the risk, but I do.

So much of life lies in the courage before the risk. We all participate in the conscious and unconscious acts of courage. We drive, despite the accident rates. We fly, despite the potential for an act of terror. We confess our feelings to other people, revealing ourselves, but risking that we won’t be validated. We raise our children, knowing ultimately, we have to take the risk in letting them go. We live everyday, saying goodbye to our loved ones who have passed on, realizing that we will have to risk those same moments when we die.

There are times when I am unwilling to muster the courage, but the spinning teacup pops up in my head. My fear of rollercoasters offers a constant reminder  to move forward.  I realize that you can’t always stand back. It is easy to move through your routine everyday without taking a single risk. Before you even realize, you live a whole life of standing back.

There is no real living in observing.  The courage comes from spinning in the tea cup and taking a sip of life.

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Do you think about the courage that comes before taking a risk? Are risks something that scare you or push you to move forward? When have you demonstrated the courage that comes before the risk?

Image by ewen and donabel

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