Don’t be the Alien on the Roller Coaster

→ This is paraphrased from a story by Bryan Allain that appears in Shawn Smucker‘s book Building a Life Out of Words.

alien roller coaster

Imagine an alien crashed to earth and we immediately put him on the roller coaster at Luna Park. As he got into the car he might think you were putting him in a space craft to take him back to Mars. As it inched its way to the top of the first hill he would prepare for take-off.

But then as the roller coaster began its first major descent he would start screaming: “This is not a space-craft — this is a death machine!”

And just when he thought his life was over the roller coaster car would hurtle upwards to the sky and he would imagine he was saved and was being launched into outer space.

An alien on a roller coaster would think that every descent leads to death and every ascent sends him towards his home among the stars.

But we know differently. Even though we scream with both terror and excitement on the roller coaster ride, in our hearts we know we are only on a ride and that neither death nor space travel are real options.

We know more about roller coasters than aliens do, but when it comes to following our dreams, we forget how things work.

One day you’ll be jumping with joy at the new breakthrough you’ve made and the next day you’ll want to crawl in bed for a week because of a huge problem you never saw coming.

You believe that every good thing will launch you into the heavens and every bad thing will plunge you into the depths of hell.

You forget that living a life of purpose and meaning is a series of ups and downs. 

Don’t be that alien on the roller coaster imagining that the good stretch will go on forever or that a bad experience means you’re going to crash and burn. You know better than that.

We’re all on this coaster together, holding our hands in the air as we climb the steep hills and yelling like idiots on the way down. It’s an exhilarating journey that will produce amazing things, but only if you don’t throw yourself off the ride halfway through because you weren’t prepared for the constant ups and downs. — Bryan Allain

Celebrate the joy and ride out the pain — just don’t quit because you forget how the roller coaster of following your dreams works.

And by all means … feel free to scream!


About KatieP

Embracing my midlife sexy while exploring modern love & relationships • Devoted to all things beautiful • Master of Arts in creative writing & non-fiction writing

9 thoughts on “Don’t be the Alien on the Roller Coaster

  1. Beautiful! And a message that rings very true after the week I had last week. (Work related woes)

    1. I’ve been following your troubles — you poor thing — you must be due to launch into the heavens sometime soon 😀

  2. *Sssssscccccccccccccccccrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
    mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggggggggggg!* “I am NOT a quitter, except when it comes to smoking ;).”

  3. Well anytime that spaceship is ready to launch to the heavens, I’m ready to jump on for the ride 🙂

  4. Well katie this makes me laugh..
    Recognise the truth behind the message… but… gee I hate buts.. this sort.. not the other… and I don’t mean the ones you’ve jsut given up! Think tight jeans..

    I have a problem in that rollercoasters make me sick.. how does one not vomit?? Oh dear.. so not funny… motion sickness…I am such a wuss in this area.. Mind – body – soul : blowout..

    Infertily is one hell of a shocking rollercoaster.. the excitement that builds when hope is rising to be shattered on D1 every month.. month after month…year after year. The joy .. the pain… and yes.. I screamed.. I used to take my dog down to a secluded spot on the river and just howl.. it is hard to find somewhere you can scream in a busy city without upsetting the neighbours!!

    Went to a concert when my brother was dieing from MND. I was in extreme distress and not coping. Grief was enveloping me.. I was living his pain. It was truly awful. I stood up in one of the loudest numbers and just screamed at the top of my lungs until my thoat hurt whilst tears flooded down my cheeks. My best friend reached out and held my hand. No one heard me because they were all screaming in excitement and clapping…

    Learning to embrace the pain in knowledge that what goes up must come down can be a difficult lesson to learn.. ‘swings and roundabouts’… and rollercoasters and screaming..

    I’m on track at the moment and doing well.. you’d be proud of me Katie.. Look forward to chatting soon.. if we can’t connect in the same place and time I will just keep on commenting away.. along with your regulars… xxxx

    1. Glad to hear you’re doing so well A.

      Not to dismiss your very real and deep pain (oh how I know the pain of life) but at the same time, don’t forget that what goes DOWN must go UP! Screaming for joy, excitement and glee is also part of the trip. I like to squeal with delight as often as possible 🙂

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