We stopped at a platform about six feet from where we needed to be.
The loud speaker announced it was technical difficulty, and assured us we’d be up and running in no time. It was our first ride of the day, and we quietly hoped to ourselves that this wasn’t some sort of a sign.
As the minutes passed faster, the coaster operators began to make small talk. Presumably to keep our minds away from the legal ramifications….and Final Destination franchise scenarios. They asked us where we were from and how many days we were in town, and when they got really desperate they started singing If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.
As the loud speaker announced just one. more. time. that the ride was going to start any second now, the ride operator with the bow in her hair said in an extra friendly voice You guys came so close. You were almost there.
And that’s when I heard it.
The lady in the car directly behind us said out loud and to no one in particular, hmm, story of my life.
Her words hung fifty feet up in the air like a speech bubble wrapped in a hot air balloon. And then plummeted back down to earth, pummeling their way through me in a palpable shock wave of regret, disappointment, and despair. In a flash I could see what she saw. An entire life lived just short of the goal line. Just shy of the final buzzer. A life of sidelines and shadows and waiting on second chances that never came. Hers had become a life of what might have beens. Of facing the ledge and never once taking that leap.
And all of this was dawning on her as we sat just six feet short of the platform.
A few minutes more passed when, just as promised, the ride started up again. The lap bars were lifted. The cars were exited. And we were invited to have a magical day. And yet, I just couldn’t leave that image behind me. I couldn’t leave her behind. Throughout the rest of the day I thought of her often, this stranger in car number two.
And what I realized is that I’m going to do everything in my power not to be her.
That each time that ledge comes around, I’m going to do my best to leap. Because given the choice between staying in the shadows and learning how to shine, I’d rather learn to shine. I will leap, I will fall. I will try, I will fail. But what I will not do is regret.
As I write this, Justin & I are on a plane Australia bound. And I’ll be honest, there have been moments over the past few months when I’ve asked Oh Lord, what did I get myself into? And the fact is, we may just go over there and fail bigger than we’ve ever failed before. Fall harder than we’ve ever fallen. But… we might not.
And for me, I would rather know the ending, I would rather know how it all turns out than to never try at all. So that thirty years from now if I ever find *myself* stuck on a platform just short of the goal, I’ll know my answer can always be….
Well, at least we can say we got to ride the ride.