“Amusement parks.” When you hear the phrase, your mind might dart to the thick, wafting scents of popcorn, soft pretzels, funnel cake, and cotton candy. Your mind may even dash to the stomach motion of roller coaster drops and spins. Your ears, too, could hear the faint, yet piercing echoes of screams and excitable cries as coasters soar and roar.
Amusement parks are fun day-trips and are often the place for much lengthier vacations. It is at these locations, in which appear to be solely about one thing, that establish a series of lessons.
Life lessons that are too important, too purposeful, too dire to not accept or acknowledge.
What are the lessons of amusement parks?
I am from Pennsylvania. More specifically, Lancaster County. If you have heard anything about this little smudge on the map, you know how surrounded it is by fields and farmland. You may also have heard about the horse buggies that trot up and down the roads. And the pesky road apples. But that’s another story for another time….
Pennsylvania is a tourist attraction simply for the countryside atmosphere and the rolling land, hills, and mountains that sweep the boxy-state. When it comes to theme parks, Pennsylvania isn’t known for many.
Hershey Park was the largest theme park near my home, a less than 60 minute drive if lucky. As a kid and teenager, I have been to the park numerous times, yet, it was not until I traveled to a much larger theme park did life lessons arrange into focus.
This past December was my family’s and I second Christmas spent in Florida. We stayed for an entire week, hopping from Islands of Adventure to Universal Studios and back again. We interacted with the cast and crew of Spider-Man, Fast and Furious, Harry Potter, and more.
The days in Orlando were thrilling with palpable excitement as the line to board a ride neared. But it was standing in the long lines where your mind begins to wander and think of things to pass the time. Thinking can also make you forget about the aches of your toes and feet.
It is also within the long lines that lesson one stems from.
Growing up, my father often told me that patience builds character. It came from the repetitive quote of “Patience is a virtue.” While this annoyed me to hear as a younger child, because what kid enjoys hearing a more polite way to shut up and stop complaining, I have eventually came to realize that patience truly is everything.
Patience is a difficult quality to possess. People are hardwired to enjoy the fast-paced or the speed in which most satisfies us. Waiting for something that exceeds our time limit causes the ticker on the scale to enter the zone of orange and red. Only then is our patience tested.
Amusement park lines are either speedy or lengthy. I have waited five minutes for some rides and two hours for others. In my opinion, anything beyond two hours is just not worth it.
Still, patience is an important part of waiting. We must wait before granted by the thing we want and anticipate most.
How can amusement parks teach us to be better waiters?
It is all about obtaining a different perspective and outlook about the “waiting.” It is all about perceiving the lengthy lines in a brand new way. Those new ways fall upon appreciating the slow progressing time.
Time feels slow when we want it to quicken most. We wish we were wizards of the clock, moving the hands in a loop across the numbers. But we can’t. That isn’t how any of this works.
Instead, try this:
Allow your mind to wander and ponder what is most on your mind. Make peace with what is bothering you. Put the worries to rest and find your happiness. Decide what it is you will do next to improve your life. Allow waiting to be the portion of time in which you make plans and habits to be a better person.
Push the mundane things from your mind, and get real with yourself. Don’t be embarrassed because, after all, your mind is your own. And no one can ever climb inside.
Also try to enjoy the moments of calm where nothing is happening, nothing is going on. Do not think of these uneventful times as boring, but rather enjoy them. Take the time of peacefulness to relax. Be mindful in the moment and let your anxieties slip away.
We must not hate waiting. We must capture the opportunity of nothingness to be everything to us. We can create plans in our mind of a goal we wish to accomplish. We can take the time to breathe, be in the moment, and enjoy the non-stressful atmosphere.
Waiting is the perfect time to just be.
Which amusement park is your favorite?
Did your mindset of waiting change?
Thanks for reading!