Tonya and I took the boys to Carowinds theme park in Charlotte this past Monday. Yes, it was July 4th, but no the crowd wasn’t bad. The heat was a little bit of an issue, but I’ve never been to Carowinds when it wasn’t. Since my cousin and his family have season passes to the park, they got us in for half price for “friends day.” That saved us a sizable amount of money. So, all in all, we had a great time.
I did learn something Monday: I’m not the man I used to be. There was a time in my life when I could ride every ride in that place without any problems, but I only managed to ride two this go around. I had plans to ride a few more, but things didn’t work out as I intended.
My first ride was a deathtrap known as “The Drop Zone.” For this one, you get strapped into a seat that goes straight up into the stratosphere. Then it pauses for a few seconds at the top and let’s you survey the entire landscape of the United States of America, after which it drops you back down at about a million miles per hour to where you started. I think half my stomach is still up in my brain. I don’t mind telling you that when I got off that ride I felt very blessed to still be alive. Ryan and Royce, on the other hand, couldn’t get to the next ride fast enough.
Well, it wasn’t too long afterwards that we came upon a roller coaster called “The Carolina Cobra.” Much to my surprise, Tonya headed straight for its entrance. (Keep in mind now that she hadn’t joined me and the boys on “The Drop Zone.”) From a few feet behind her, I called out, “Are you going to ride this one?” She said, “Yes, it doesn’t look too bad.” It’s main feature was an upside down turn, which I’ll admit did seem to be relatively harmless. So the boys and I joined her in line. Tonya and I ended up in a cart by ourselves, while Ryan and Royce ended up in another one. Needless to say, when the ride was over, they were in far better condition than we were. Oh, we made it through the first half of the ride okay. But the ride’s slogan is “It strikes twice.” That means that once it has completed its course going forward it runs it again backward. It was that backward run, not being able to see what was coming, that got us. You might say that just as “The Drop Zone” had taken my stomach, “The Carolina Cobra” took my equilibrium. Tonya didn’t feel much better than I did as we dismounted the thing. As for Ryan and Royce, their day of rides was only just beginning. Ah, to be young again.
It’s very humbling when you are forced to admit that you aren’t the man you used to be. Of course, I didn’t need a couple of Carowinds rides to teach me my new limitations. The fact is, I’m taking that course every day. My joints ache. I don’t have much strength in my hands. My back is dicey. You get the idea. Despite the laughable double-standard of the theory of evolution, science’s second law of thermodynamics states that everything winds down, not up. Things move from order to disorder. I assure you that my body is in perfect compliance with this law. If I get much more disordered, I won’t even be able to drive to Carowinds, let alone ride any of the rides.
But at least I have already begun making my peace with my age. Sadly, many people haven’t. I call it the “Peter Pan complex.” These folks simply refuse to grow up. The women are trying to hang on to their looks, and the men are trying to hang on to the vitality of their youth. How sad it all is. And how different such an attitude toward aging is from the one that is presented in the Bible. Consider the following passages:
1. “The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness.” (Proverbs 16:31)
2. “The glory of young men is their strength, and the splendor of old men is their gray head.” (Proverbs 20:29)
3. “They (the righteous) shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing.” (Psalm 92:14)
Now tell me, do any of these passages paint getting old in a bad light? Of course not. Losing your physical strength doesn’t mean that you lose your spiritual strength. To the contrary, the older you get the greater your spiritual strength should become. We make such fools of ourselves when we try to keep up with the appearances and demands of youth. I was struck by this thought as I sat suspended in space, sitting in my seat of “The Drop Zone,” viewing people as little ants below. I thought, “Why did I do this? Have I lost my mind? What am I trying to prove here?”
So I guess you could say that I had something of an epiphany Monday. I realized that my days of riding the “big” rides are over. But I’m okay with that. I always thought that line, “Live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse” was stupid anyway. As the Bible says, there is a glory and a splendor in gray hairs. I just need to remember that the next time I see my barber sweeping all that glory and splendor of mine up of the floor.