KennywoodWe tend to find that we all have a goal for which we work. It’s human nature. We look at what others have and choose that as our next accomplishment. This is just what humans do. The process is never questioned. Most learn this early on in life. I learned it, too. I never questioned it either. This was my thought process for eleven years before I took a closer look. Not until my misadventure in Kennywood did I challenge this philosophy.My family had been looking forward to this excursion all week. Kennywood. An amusement park which seemed so foreign to me. I had never been there before, and each ride seemed as if it were an adventure just waiting for me to buckle in. My brave aunt and five of my closest cousins tumbled out of the stuffy van after a trying ride filled with “He’s touching me!” and “Are we there yet?” My aunt must have overestimated the traffic of Pittsburgh because we arrived early and each minute ticked by like (sluggish molasses on a cold winter morning or a creeping bug). At long last, the impressive wrought-iron gates creaked and squealed open as it swung on its hinges to reveal the interior of the park. I gleefully raced inside with my cousins and with little thought of our destination. Our sole goal was to find the most impressive and imposing ride to launch what we expected to be a spectacular day full of adrenaline and sheer drops. Despite how hard I tried to hide it, a skip wormed its way into my gait. I, as an eleven-year old, was finally tall enough and brave enough to ride the same rides as all of my older cousins. Throughout the day, the stench of hot asphalt and stale popcorn assaulted our noses while the hot sun baked our skin, but we didn’t care. Our only concern was the next dose of breathtaking fear the ensuing ride provided. Few breaks were given between each ride; slow moving lines doubled as time to rally ourselves and to recover from the abuse of the whirling rides. The offense finally took its toll on my young body.Its name was Cosmic Chaos. The ride was designed to look like an alien space ship which would careen on a track shaped like a vertical U. Cosmic Chaos was rather innocuous. Few could guess the reputation of the ride was that it was notorious for having a chaotic effect on one’s body. “Last time, I barely made it a hundred feet before I puked,” boasted my older cousin, Zach, while we impatiently waited in line. This did little to deter eleven-year-old me. If anything, it encouraged me. I believed that I could face it head on like many of the other rides I had ridden that day and escape it with barely a scream or a stumble.As the final riders stumbled off the ride, I excitedly walked to my seat. I knew from watching others that I was supposed to sit on the seat as if sitting backwards on a folding chair. A backrest emerged from the base of the seat and pinned me. There were no restraints or straps to be found. Looking back on this, the safety of this ride should questioned by any sane person, but an eleven-year old cannot be counted as a sane person. I was smaller than the typical rider, me being an eleven-year old, so the back rest pressed against my chest whereas it would press on the middle of a normal rider’s back. It became difficult to breathe. Each breathe took enormous effort and seemed to make the pain increase. My lungs desperately fought against the pressure, but it was a losing battle. As the ride slowly began its revolutions, I slipped out of consciousness.I’ve been told that when the ride ended my cousin came and attempted to rouse me. When I did not respond, she assumed that I was playing a joke and left me. I woke to the concerned face of my aunt and the ride attendant hovering over me. They shuffled me onto a wheel chair and began to wheel me to the first aid station. I was still discombobulated so I was unable to register the events around me and could only marvel over my first wheel chair ride. It was brief. The first aid station was across the path from the Cosmic Chaos. I was passed off to the nurse who followed standard procedure when dealing with a case like mine. Nothing out of the ordinary was unearthed. I had simply passed out because of a lack of oxygen. The checkup ended with me receiving a cheap blue popsicle. My aunt led me, clutching the blue popsicle, back to where the rest of my family congregated in the stands watching a BMX show. My eyes transfixed on the spectacular stunts of the performers while my cousins’ eyes zeroed in on the technicolor frozen treat in my hands. “Why does she get a popsicle?” I was dumbfounded. I was envious of my cousins having the opportunity to watch this fascinating show while I had an ordeal and got a measly popsicle. Didn’t they understand that they got the better end of bargain?Looking back, I’ve realized that is when I learned the second and most important part of the human philosophy. We look at what others have and choose that as our next accomplishment but we ignore the trials this person, whom we tend to glorify, had to endure to get to that point. I’ve learned to see the hidden struggles of others and realized that maybe what they have isn’t what I truly want.
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