Sunday, May 17, 2009

On Roller Coasters

Today was the New Jersey Catholic Youth Rally at Six Flags: Great Adventure.  Read: Today was Take Your Youth Group to the Amusement Park Day.  So we went.  My local theme park in particular has nine excellent, large/long coasters.  We went on every one that was open (and with the lines for coasters, that’s about all we had time to do).

There’s something about a roller coaster.  Okay, leave aside for a moment those people whose bodies object to the unnatural manipulation of gravity; I think it’s safe to say that they don’t like coasters predominantly (if not entirely) because they cause them physical discomfort.  But for the rest of us:  they carry a magnificent allure.

But why?  What is it about flying through the air at high speeds that is so irresistible?  Is it simply the natural joy of an activity that resembles flying?  Is it nothing more than the adrenaline that pumps through your body because of the crazy G-forces?

Maybe it is solely biological.  And maybe it’s just a turkey shoot whether our bodies like such crazy things or not.  But there’s something so exciting and freeing about flying through the air like that...

I like roller coasters.  I’m glad today came with a free admission ticket for next time.  :)


  1. Michael12:17 AM

    I dunno... I don't know if you could even get me on a roller coaster at this point. Its not the physical discomfort (although that's a part), its fear. I am afraid when I am in line, when I sit down (those two are, perhaps, not the roller coaster's fault), and while I am riding. I know its safe, almost perfectly so, but it scares me. I don't like fear.

    I guess I just don't have a thrill seeking personality (I have been called vanilla Miller before), but I just can't understand the enjoyment that comes with fear.

  2. Good point, Michael. I'd forgotten about fear. I don't feel fear upon riding coasters, but I do hear people talk about being scared (yet often excited) for them. I suppose that makes fear an essential characteristic to consider. Then perhaps riding coasters is sort of a guaranteed way to triumph over a given fear?

  3. Fear, anxiety and excitement are caused by the same chemical/biological response in the body. The "fight/flight" response if you will. The only major material difference between the two is the interpretation of events that result in their responses. In other words, fear can turn into excitement rather easily. My personal belief is that roller coasters are more exciting for people who are horrified of them. That sense of sheer terror is replaced by an even greater sense of relief after you get off. Relief that you have in fact survived and cheated death. One of the strongest rewards to the animal kingdom (very evolutionarily advantageous). Repeating this process eventually turns terror into excitement then boredom.

  4. Michael12:12 AM

    Maybe. But the fear sticks in my mind much longer than the relief. I mean I don't think I'm gonna die. The real relief is that I can get off the damn thing and ride the merry-go-round.

  5. Call me a coward, but I can't stand roller coasters. Especially the ones that go upside down.


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