Lean on your Mother-Father... when you're afraid

Sitting here at my desk in perfect quiet, looking out across shimmering grassy dunes to the ocean, captures an ideal summer moment for me. Having grown up in California, on the opposite coast of the United States, the period stretching from the last day of school until the return to school was peppered with other summer moments. Among them, several family daytrips to the beach and, occasionally, a few hours tagged on at day's end at the boardwalk where vendors hawked balloons, hotdogs, games, and rides. I faced these evenings with a mixture of glee and dread; I loved the colorful blend of organ-grinder music, sticky-sweet smells, and carnival gaiety, but I paled at the sight of Ferris wheel.

There was, however, one very special evening. There were six in our family, all eager to go except me, though I tried to hide it. We paired up, and I got into the carriage seat of the gangly swaying structure with my dad. He knew I was frightened and, wanting me to overcome the fear, gave me a pointer. Putting his arm around me, he told me to find one little place in the carriage to focus on—a small paint chip, a joint in the safety bar, or a wrinkle in his trousers—and to keep my eye intently on it, and not to look at anything else. For the first time, I was able to swirl from the night sky to the ground without feeling terrified, and I've enjoyed many Ferris-wheel rides since.

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Panic on board
August 9, 2004
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