by Sally Fletcher

     Some people pay to ride on a roller coaster, screaming with fear and elation. Life is like a roller coaster. Life has its ups and downs, takes steep long drops, turns you upside down, spins you around, and it’s your choice to scream or enjoy the ride.
Life is an adventure and unpredictable, where you experience all sorts of emotions from elation to extreme sadness. The down times, when you go through pain and suffering, help you value the joy and happiness. Everything changes -your health, your level of excitement or contentment, your accomplishments, the stock market, your progress while learning something new, your family and friends. All these things don’t simply go way up and way down. Changes sometimes occur within a few seconds, a few days, weeks, months, or years. Often there are plateaus, where the roller coaster is stopped in the middle. These plateaus when you’re on the way up are times when we often quit or at least become frustrated. I experience these plateaus when learning a new piece on the harp or piano, and I see it happening with students as well. Eventually the roller coaster finally continues upward, sometimes very fast. I remind myself or the student that this is common. That helps to be patient and to keep on with the practicing.
Have you experienced a wave of dread when everything is going beautifully in your life, knowing that it won’t last forever? Have you sighed at a time when things couldn’t get much worse, knowing and hoping that there will eventually be an upward swing? Your intuition and past experience is reminding you that life is constantly changing, and full of unexpected surprises.
We don’t always have a choice about the events, but we do have a choice about our reaction and frame of mind. There are some ways to soften the ups and downs. One way is to imagine you’re looking at life as a movie, an art display or music. Become enchanted with the changes, the different colors, dynamics, dissonance to harmony. Another way to get through the cycle is to practice meditation or mindfulness. Just be an interested observer. When you’re in a downward time or upside down, remind yourself that the exciting fun hill is coming up next. You can scream, throw your hands up in the air, laugh, and enjoy the fun time.