May 20th, 2009

A Euphoric Relief

Walt Disney World Diversional Extravaganza — Post-Trip Installment 1

It almost feels like this time since I’ve been back from vacation has felt busier than when I was actually on vacation, despite what an action-packed week we had at Walt Disney World (it’s hard for me to imagine any other kind there, frankly). I have felt like I have been in a consistent state of “catching up,” and I’m still not — not on blogs, on email, even on my snail mail.

Anyway, this means I am also just getting around to posting my first post-return Walt Disney World post. There have been a number of things in my consciousness to write about in this regard, but one subject not originally planned on has come up in the last several days and been in my thoughts, generally when I’ve not been at the computer to type them. Alas, it has already been far longer than I intended to get my first post-trip post up, so I am at the computer now — so here we go.

Something occurred to me in the last few days about a thematic experience I had at Walt Disney World. I’ve been reminiscing about it a lot since we got back, and truth be told, I miss it. I really miss it. I loved being there, loved the environment and Rick’s and my shared vacation-like time together. But anyway. As I was pondering recently, I was remembering how I experienced a lot of the rides, especially those with which I was unfamiliar or didn’t remember very well, and I thought of how much I enjoyed many of them and how I’d love to go do them again right now.

And I remembered how apprehensive I had felt before embarking on them.

The Tower of Terror, the Test Track roller coaster at EPCOT, the Expedition Everest roller coaster at Animal Kingdom, the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios, even Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which I remembered loving as a kid, saw a nervousness from me as I decided whether I wanted to ride them and then entered in line to actually do so. With each ride, I tended to experience an apprehensive agitation, wondering…wondering what, you may ask? Good question. I wondered if somehow I would experience something about it as fearful, unpleasant, if I would feel motion sickness, if I just wouldn’t “handle” it well, and what would I do if any of that happened? I would already be stuck on the ride — it wasn’t as though I could turn back at that point.

Sometimes this even happened after I had already ridden the ride once! Looking back, this seemed especially astonishing to me. The Tower of Terror, for example, still elicited a wary look from me the second time I went back to ride it. It was as though the first ride on each of the above mentioned rides was a “test,” and if I got through the tension-filled first time and it seemed “okay,” perhaps I could actually go back and really experience the ride the second time. And yet, as I mentioned, in some cases even then I felt apprehension: What if this time something goes awry? What if this time I feel motion sickness? What if this time I experience something as unpleasant? So sometimes there was continuing tension even on the second time riding the respective ride, and thus still a seeming “incomplete” experience of it.

As this occurred to me, I realized actually how not astonishing it seemed to me at all. Sad (and I mean that sincerely and not in a self-deprecating way), heartbreaking even, but not particularly surprising. Because I think that is a microcosmic study of how I have historically experienced much of life. Tension, anxiety, fear that something might “happen” for which I must be on guard and which I must be ready to combat. And what a futile, absurd practice. But of course there are historical patterns in us (otherwise known as ego) that function in such ways often without our even realizing them — because they feel so natural, so “always been that way” that they are camouflaged. We often do not see them just as patterns in us, rather than absolutes or inevitable “ways things are” (which they are not).

Eventually I much enjoyed many of the above mentioned rides and rode them multiple times. My favorite was the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios. I felt the same apprehension going into that ride the first time that I had in the others, and it was arguably the most intense ride of them all. It was also the one that captivated me the most. It took off like a bullet and didn’t slow down until it stopped. As I mentioned when I first described it here, it literally took my breath away for several seconds the first time we took off on it. I started breathing again shortly into it, but that intensity never let up until the ride was over.

And thus it did something to me. Once it began, it didn’t give me a chance to think about it, to analyze, to fret, to wonder what was coming next, worry I might not like it, feel concern I might find it uncomfortable. It just went. I no longer had any pretense of control.

In short, it forced me to yield.

And this is exhilarating. Because what I am forced to let go of is a struggle I feel like I have historically so frequently experienced, the struggle described above of bracing myself, tensing for what is going to happen, not necessarily in the future but right now, and what I have to do to protect myself from it.

The answer, of course, is nothing.

But the historical patterns of my ego don’t feel that way. Thus, it is a struggle not with something coming at me or something from the outside — it is a struggle with myself.

To bring this back to sex (I know, I went a little out on a limb there for a while, but this really did occur to me too), as I was pondering this it occurred to me that the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster reminded me in this way of rough sex. I am forced to yield control, I no longer have to feel responsible for the analyzing and the figuring and the bracing and the protecting. That is being given up. My hair being yanked and my ass being smacked and my arms being held is like the roller coaster that took off like a bullet and didn’t slow down until it was done, forcing that apprehensive, tense, fretting, analyzing part of me to yield. Fucking the tension right out of it. And as much of a fight as it may seem to put up beforehand at the idea of such a thing, deep down another part of me knows that truly, that yield is a relief. A euphoric relief.


“Rise to the heights of all you can be…everywhere you go, your soul will find a home, you’ll be free to spread your wings…”
-Tinkerbell “Fly to Your Heart” (sung by Selena Gomez)

12 Responses “A Euphoric Relief”

  1. Oh, my, what a powerful post, Emerald. This fear of the unknown, of a vague negative outcome sounds very familiar. As does the exhilarating release of being in the moment, being forced to be in the moment. I’m working on a BDSM story right now and you’ve completely capture the appeal of the scene. The rough sex takes her out of ordinary life where she’s future-focused and forces her into the now. That’s definitely a key dynamic. Thank you for articulating it so well!

  2. Such fascinating thoughts on a theme-park trip!

    Even when I was a kid, rides never really did much for me. I’d never really thought why this was. I was always able to take the most “perilous” rides — the ones my friends wouldn’t try.

    Now I think it is because I tended to be far too pragmatic (and perhaps a little too trusting?!) Looking back, I must have viewed the chance of actual danger is very low, and so I guess I never got the sense of risk. I enjoyed the g-forces and such, but they never gave me the same rush as, say, careening down a highway high rates of speed or taking mountain roads with the tires squealing in the corners.

    Thanks for giving me lots to ponder today, Emerald!

  3. Erobintica says:

    Intriguing post Emerald! I know that apprehension well, the fear of what might happen. And it’s funny, except for rollercoasters, I’ve tended to rather be “safe than sorry” – until lately. But I always loved rollercoasters. Maybe it was that yielding and then that “I survived it” feeling afterwards. I’ve not tried to capture that in a story yet – well, maybe not consciously.

    Thanks for a post to get me thinking in the morning.

  4. JM Stone says:

    I have to echo everyone else, Em. What a powerful, thoughtful post. And I could have been reading about myself, too. I know that feeling on the roller coaster, when you finally surender. King’s Island in Cincinnati has one called “The Outer Limits” I believe, that is airpowered. It does the same, taking off like a bullet and just throwing you into the meat of the ride with no clickclickclick. It’s also in the dark. So even if you wanted to try to anticipate the next loop, swirl, curve, whathaveyou, you simply can’t.

    I think alot of women have a habit of “bracing” in their lives. It takes very little to trigger my tendancy.

    And I never thought I’d read such a good explanation of why rough sex is good ;)

  5. Neve Black says:

    Hi Em,
    Interesting parallelism here.

    I’ve always said, sex is the adult version of Disneyland. Your words so eloquently expressed the reason that is so true.

    Nice post.

  6. Emerald says:

    Thank you, Donna. It was funny that the comparison just occurred to me a few nights ago when I was out for a drive. And once it did, it seemed so obvious, if you will, that I almost felt surprised that it hadn’t occurred to me before. I did not intend to devote a whole post to it, but that is what came out when I finally sat down to write one.

  7. Emerald says:

    Heh, Craig, I found myself thinking almost the exact same thing — as I finished reading over the draft of this post, I thought to myself, “Well that’s certainly not something I expected to learn at(/from) Walt Disney World!”

    I find your musing fascinating — in part because I have historically so not related to it. I have tended to feel much “fear” about things, ironically even when there hasn’t been much threat present! That really seems interesting to me that there wasn’t much of a “kick” for you in roller coasters because you recognized there wasn’t really much danger. It seems we’ve been on different ends of that spectrum, but somehow it does seem to me to be the same spectrum…. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Emerald says:

    Hey Robin. I also find that interesting — the idea that even if one has historically felt apprehension in a number of areas, a roller coaster seems “safe,” relatively speaking. How funny it seems that I still experienced such apprehension even with that being the case….

    Thank you for stopping by.

  9. Emerald says:

    Hey Jen. “No clickclickclick” — that is EXACTLY what it was like.

    “And I never thought I’d read such a good explanation of why rough sex is good ;)”

    An enormous compliment — thank you so very much.

  10. Emerald says:

    Hi Neve. Heh, funny that this was certainly not an area in which I anticipated making a connection between sex and Walt Disney World! Thank you, and thanks for stopping by.

  11. Cora Zane says:

    Intense post, Emerald! I’ve never been to Disneyland, but just the thought of the Rock n Roller Coaster sets off butterflies in my stomach.

  12. Emerald says:

    Hi Cora! Thank you, and thanks so much for stopping by.

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