Monday, September 10, 2012

Riding the "Tilt a Whirl"...and a surprising lesson in openness.

I like to think of myself as an adventurous person - open to the unexplored, seeking new adventures, hungry for fresh learning opportunities, willing to embrace life fully. Well, at least, that's always the plan. I sometimes fall well short of being successful in this endeavour.

Clearly, to be otherwise, is to be closed to experiencing the fullness and richness of life - in all its colours and textures.

But it's not always easy to be "adventurous". And sometimes, we overestimate our ability to embrace life fully, to be truly "open".
Yesterday, we went to the local country fair, the Cowichan Exhibition. Such events express the personality of the community and the opportunities to meet and greet neighbours are endless. How difficult could this be? Unexpected "challenges", however, always surface in life.

When a friend, that we had agreed to meet up with at the fairgrounds, thrust a ticket into each of our unwilling hands, we had a sense that the proverbial "rubber" was about the hit the road. Her mischief-filled smile affirmed that my stated spirit of adventure was about to be tested. 

Each ticket admitted one person to...the "Tilt a Whirl".  

Me? Ride the "Tilt a Whirl"? You have to be kidding. This was unthinkable! I racked my brain for a graceful way out.

Aha, not being very tall, perhaps I would fail to meet the height requirement for this amusement park ride. No, there were too many brave little children in the line up. Perhaps I could feign an aversion to circular motion and excessive "g" forces. After all, this experience is known to induce nausea! No, that excuse wouldn't cut it either. None of the parents, sending their children up the entry ramp, appeared the least bit concerned. OK, of course! I would just tell them that I was far too old for this kind of thing. It simply would not be...dignified. No, sadly, I was not even the oldest in the line up. Ahh, Joan could just explain that we didn't "do" rides. No that was not going to work as she, herself, was clearly excited about this "opportunity".

There seemed to be no honourable or graceful way out. 

I would have to go through with this. Following my co-riders, I passed through the gates and located my appointed car. Pulling the safety bar down, and glancing left and right to my fellow travellers in this rather "cute" blue and white craft, there was a small jolt and we began to move. The machine began to quickly gather speed, engaging centrifugal and gravitational forces as we sped and slowed, snapped, circled and swung. What am I doing here?!

And then I had the strangest experience.

"Tilt a whirling"...unthinkable!
Joan, 2nd from left, clearly relaxed and enjoying the ride. :)
It was wonderful fun! A child again, I revelled in the laughter and the happy faces of my fellow "tilt a whirl" passengers, as we turned and rotated and swung around and turned again and again. We laughed long after all motion had ceased and we were pointed to the exit ramp, making room for the next "flight" of excited faces.

How easy it would have been to have missed this experience.

How important it is to be "open" - it is certainly central to nurturing a "spirit" of adventure. Openness and curiosity must exist, side by side, for there to be a desire to explore and discover - arguably, the very activity that moves us forward as human beings.

And being open in the little things in life gives us good practice for the bigger, and profoundly more important things. Openness helps us get to know, respect and accept one another. It enables us to feel, and respond with compassion to the pain and suffering, not only of others, but of our fragile, island planet.

A gift of two tickets, a gentle challenge, and an amusement park ride - a lesson to be fondly remembered.


Top image: Saltspring Island, evening sea kayak crossing of Sansum Narrows.
2nd image: Running on the beach, Gabriola Island.
3rd image: Cycling, taking a breather at Genoa Bay.
Bottom image: The Cowichan Exhibition fairgrounds and part of our Cowichan Valley "family" in the "Tilt a Whirl". 


  1. It definetly is important to be open to trying new and different adventures,even if they seem only for the very young folk. Glad you enjoyed it. I'll remind you of this blog next summer when the season for river swimming begins :)

  2. Swimming in the river, L? Hmm, not sure what blog posting you'd be reminding me about. Haha. Besides, that's just for kids too! :) D.