One of our family vacations was a trip to Myrtle Beach, where we gathered with extended family in a ramshackle beach house which was unairconditioned, but with a front porch where we could watch the ocean. Most of those houses have since been destroyed for condos and resorts, since the 1970's and early 80's when we vacationed there.
We usually had one activity a day: mini-golf, a movie, a water slide, and shopping for shark's teeth, taffy, and trinkets. We'd often repeat an activity. I always wanted to go to the water slide again.
Those were old-fashioned water slides: a concrete slide with mats. No tubes, no breathtaking drops, nothing to teach us about Physics.
Yesterday we went to a water park that had over 20 slides. You could ride in mats, innertubes, rafts, or just your back, depending on the ride. There was a lazy river, a wave pool, and a place for very little kids.
I worried that I might just have to stay in the lazy river all day, as most of the rides seemed a bit scary to me. We started on the slides which reminded me of the Myrtle Beach days. They weren't nearly as fun as I remembered. Next we went on the ride with the smallest time in a tube, which we rode down in double innertubes.
That ride wasn't as terrifying as I expected, so I decided to go on the Black Thunder attraction, a ride in total darkness with a vortex. It was thrilling but not as scary as I expected (my sister would disagree). It was completely outside of my comfort zone--and I was happy that I rose to the challenge.
So I rode a few other rides outside of my comfort zone too. There were some I decided were too big a risk to my back, so I sat those out--but it wasn't out of fear of falling out of the slide, but fear of a wrenched back and the hour car ride home.
When I took my motorcycle riding classes last year, I wrote about realizing how few activities I do that are truly outside of my comfort zone. I may stretch myself with activities, but they aren't truly new to me, at least with most of what I do. There's very little that I do that requires feeling fear/anxiety but doing it anyway.
Yesterday's waterpark didn't inspire true fear, the way that riding the motorcycle for the first time did. I knew we'd be safe--it wasn't a waterpark with netting across the open tube, like the attraction that killed the child in Kansas. There have been no serious incidents at the park.
As I get older, I want to keep doing activities that challenge me to move closer to the edges of my comfort zone, and to occasionally leave my comfort zone. I know too many people who are curtailing their activities before they get truly old. There may be good reasons that my friends don't want to tell me about, but for most of them, they seem to have simply decided not to challenge their anxieties--and so, they end up not driving outside of the county or on Interstates or taking on new jobs or trying new activities.
Our day yesterday was full of other insights, but this post is getting long, so let me close here, with gratitude for nephews and others who challenge me to move outside my comfort zone.