The open and the enclosed slide.

I spent the day at the community pool today with my daughter. They have two large slides for big kids and adults. The slides are nearly identical except for one thing, one is open and the other is enclosed, likely due to the claustrophobia some people may experience.

There is an interesting dynamic here, the enclosed one is dark, not much to see and that changes the entire way the experience feels. It feels like you are being taken for a ride with nothing you can do to react to any upcoming twist or turn in advance, that everything is external to you.

The open slide counters that. You can see the upcoming turns and twists illuminated by the sun outside. It seems like you can react, that you can anticipate a turn and making going into a bit smoother.

The reality is that for both, there is water being forced down a fixed path. The only thing that could be chosen was whether to go down either of those particular slides at all. Once moving there isn’t much else you can do until you reach the bottom.

This is an excellent analogy for life. There are certain segments of our life where we are choosing whether to go down the open slide, or the enclosed one or none at all. Each of those choices then introduces a number of twists and turns into our life which we may not have any power over for a period of time, until that ride ends, and it’s time to pick our next one.

Often times we are so caught up in trying to predict what’s next, or to push back against forces that we can’t enjoy the ride itself for what it is. A fixed amount of time, providing an experience that will give us valuable feedback in whether or not we want to choose to ride it again, or whether we want to find a new ride, something that better fits our needs.

When you look at it this way, life is a series of “rides” and we have the opportunity to choose which ones we go on however we need to keep a few things in mind (warning: metaphorical rules coming, interpret them at your own peril):

  • Let’s not go back up and go down a “ride” we determined we already didn’t like unless something has significantly changed.
  • We have a limited amount of “rides” that we can choose during our lifetime
  • Standing in line too long is a waste, find something else.
  • Let’s make sure the height requirement is met.
  • Be safe.
  • Recognize all your control is in picking the “ride”, after that the experience is out of your control.

The point of a “ride” is to enjoy yourself. Let’s not forget that.

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