On roller coasters and free will

Swarms of people hustle down the sidewalks toward the looming voluntary torture machine they’ve christened The Bat. It’s my first roller coaster, so I feel my breath speeding up as I climb into the seat and feel the restraint click around my shoulders. My feet dangle above the platform. In a moment, they’ll be dangling in sheer air. I’ve been told that the ride doesn’t go upside down. As I look out at the staggering heights and pin-tight turns, I’m not sure if that’s very comforting.

With a grinding lurch, The Bat starts. Immediately my misgivings flood in. Why the hell have I chosen to subject myself to this? My stomach slides up into my throat, reverses, and plummets back down. I should be standing on solid ground right now. Walking is fine. Even running is fine. Wings were kept from human beings for a reason. 

But I’ve made my choice. In fact, it’s the last choice I’ll be making for another five minutes. I can close my eyes if I want to, lift my arms a bit, scream, retch if I must, but other than that I’m helpless. I handed over perfectly good money to have my free will taken away from me. No one will ask me, at the top of the next peak, if I feel brave enough to make the drop. Would we still ride roller coasters if that was the case?

With no escape in view, I resign myself to the rush of wind in my face, the slam of the g-force, and the feeling that I’ll never stop falling. I’m having so much fun. I want it to stop. I never want it to stop. Scare me a little, I demand of this amusement park. I sit in a desk for eight hours a day and I’ve lost the primal thrill of a lion running me down. Please, return some adrenaline to my sedentary lifestyle. Let Death snicker in my ear for a few minutes. I’ve never enjoyed a memento mori so much.

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