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Everything You Need to Know About Life You Learned Watching Slingshot Videos

Ethan and Landon, Courtesy of Screamer’s Park Daytona Slingshot

There is nothing in this life you need to know that you can’t learn from watching videos of people on the SlingShot rides. If you aren’t familiar with these attractions, they are basically a capsule that can hold up to two people, attached on both sides by bungee cords. The capsule is pulled back and released, and you are thrown, like a slingshot, through the air.

I spent a good chunk of an hour watching these videos, which it seems the attractions do as a matter of habit, and I feel like everything I needed to know about life was contained in these little morsels of terrified, petrified, and horrified wisdom.

Before anything else, you NEED to know this – be like Landon – the little kid on the left in the video up above. He is IT. He grabs the fear by the throat, looks it in the eyes, spits in its face, and LOVES life. He is the ultimate friend to Ethan, who likely has peed himself at some point – but not because his friend Landon abandoned him. Landon encouraged him, supported him, reached out for him at his moment of greatest need. You may never know someone like Landon, but I can’t imagine not wanting to do everything Landon does, I want to be Landon when I grow up. And that begins the lessons we learned watching slingshot videos.

  1. You only get one life. Live it. – I am an anxious person. Much of my life, even when I am doing my best to live it, is lived in terror of some kind. I have social anxiety, I worry about my children, I fear things both known and unknown. And the irony in that is that I LOVE being around people who have an adventurous spirit. My husband, for example, is afraid of next to nothing. He doesn’t worry about being late, he’s never concerned about bills getting paid, he gets to experience life on a level I will never know – but had I watched SlingShot videos growing up, maybe I would have known. Yeah, shit is scary. Face it, embrace it, and live life.

2. Never underestimate the value of good underwear. – Aside from the occasional bowel or bladder accident on these slingshot rides, the biggest undergarment issue is those people who choose to go without. I’m looking at you, ladies. Women in tank tops or – who even wears these anymore – tube tops spend a good chunk of the ride trying to restrain “the girls,” who seem to take on a life of their own, with the help of the gravity defying slingshot effect. Always have the respect in yourself to put on some damn underwear. It’s important in life to know your worth and wearing clothes that randomly give freedom to your boobies is a little devaluing in my opinion. You’re worth more than that. Keep the mystery alive, and dress appropriately. Oh – and your mom wouldn’t want you to be caught by paramedics in an accident not wearing your best underwear.

3. Moms will always have your back, even when they are losing their lunch. – There are moms on these videos with young children, who let go of the safety harness they are wearing themselves to put out the good old mom arm seatbelt device, in an effort to protect their children. There are older moms with older daughters, and I watch them try desperately to control their own fears and tears so they can guide their children safely back to sanity and the earth’s surface. Your mom is always doing the best with the tools she has to work with. Give her credit.

4. The most important thing you can have beside you is a friend who will do even the dumbest shit with you – like ride a slingshot. There are some things in this life you just can’t face alone – and you won’t have to if you keep one good friend by your side. This is your go-to person. This is the person who will pick your kids up when you forget them – yes, I said forget them – at school. They will help you plan birthday parties, weddings, funerals, and escape routes for when your teenagers become too much. They know when you need a cup of coffee or bottle of wine, and they make the time to make sure you don’t drink either alone.

I won’t ruin the experience for all of you, should you choose to learn more of life’s lessons by watching slingshot videos. I saw people scream, curse, laugh, cry, pray, and pass out – literally pass out. All of life’s emotions tied to one incredible ride.

Live, my friends. We come this way once, and for some of us, the trip is way shorter than we want it to be, Experience things, learn the lessons, enjoy the journey. n

The Dash

There’s a poem that has circulated for a long time on the internet, and you’ve probably seen it in written form or in the form of a slide show with beautiful pictures from all aspects of nature.  The poem refers to the dash on a tombstone – the one that goes between the year you were born and the year you died.  It talks about how it doesn’t really matter about the dates themselves, but what really matters is what you’ve done with all the time in the middle of those years – or, the dash. 

In the past week, I’ve learned that a brand new baby died just days after her birth.  I’ve learned that a little boy who just underwent a last resort treatment for cancer found that the treatment has been unsuccessful.  And I’ve learned that the brother-in-law of a friend has been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor that will likely rob him of his life.  Every where I turned this week, the dash seemed more important. 

We don’t know how long we have when we arrive here on this earth.  We don’t know how much time our dash will be.  We certainly hope that when our time comes, someone is talking about how long, happy, and fulfilling our dash has been.  But that’s not the case for everyone. 

When I wrote the eulogy for my dad that appeared in the memorial booklet we printed for his funeral, I put the message in there that one thing I hoped to learn from him and the way he led his life was that you want to impact people here so that there is no one glad for your passing in the end.  You want people to cry, be mournful, and vow to miss you when you’re gone.  You want people to recall the great things you did, the kindness you showed, the generosity of your heart.  You want to make sure your dash, no matter how long or short, is the time when you loved and were loved.

As a child, I expected to grow up and be “something”.  I thought I might be a doctor, a nurse, a teacher.  I wanted to be “something”, and then be a mom.  It seemed at the time that being a mom was an accessory to adulthood.  You became “something”, then you had children that you could dress up, take out, and show off when you weren’t busy with what you became.  And while I will be the first person to admit that I do have times of regret that I didn’t end up as one of the “somethings” I dreamed about, what I did become is so much more important.  It’s the hardest thing I ever could have done in life.  I have three beautiful daughters, and it is my job to make sure they grow up knowing they are loved, that someone will always be available for them, and that they are not the accessories in my life, but they ARE my life.  It is my job to make the decisions that say Jim and I may be living frugally in our golden years, but we gave our kids every advantage, every benefit we could afford, every wonder life could offer to them.  It is my job to weigh the good and the bad of things, let them make mistakes where they will learn and help them avoid mistakes that will just be painful.  I won’t know for many years to come if I’ve done my job well.  There is no bonus pool each year, no evaluation every three months, no instant reward in the form of a paycheck each week.  Some days, the job seems impossible, and I think it would have been much easier to be a brain surgeon or nuclear physicist.  But I hope, at the end of my days, when someone is looking at my dash, they can turn towards my children and know that I did something with that space between the two dates.  I may not have my name in a by-line somewhere or in the medical journals or even noted as teacher of the year somewhere.  But I hope my children are great women.  That will be the achievement I most want to be remembered for.  These girls are my dash.