My brothers and I rarely, if ever, get together for a meal with just the three of us — sans spouses, kids, and grandchildren. We rectified that oversight a few weeks ago meeting half way between Lakeland and Orlando near International Drive, a tourist Mecca where every conceivable hotel and restaurant chain is represented, as well outlet malls, souvenir shops, and thrill rides.
Aging and adult responsibilities certainly have a way of putting a damper on playfulness. Somehow though, when you are around people who knew your much younger self, those long lost feelings and memories can be resurrected.
Michael, Patrick and I (no, our family has no Irish ancestry that I’m aware of) laughed until we were sick remembering our adolescent antics. Reminiscing in that Red Lobster booth somehow made our 60+ selves feel young and playful again!
“Let’s go next door and check out the Magical Midway (amusement park),” Patrick urged us. Surprised that our responsible, rule following-brother was not anxious to get back to his to-do lists, we quickly agreed.
Anyone traveling down Interstate 4 through Orlando can easily see the amusement rides in the distance. I’d fantasized about going on some form of Bungee thrill ride.
Mouths agape and necks craned we looked up with some degree of admiration at the reckless bravery of people willing to be shot 400 feet up in the air. The ride’s promo reads like this:
Slingshot delivers one of the most heart pounding, adrenaline pumping, exhilarating thrill ride experiences in Central Florida.
Take your seat, buckle up, and hold on as the platform tilts you back into a reclined position and you are catapulted out at a force of 3-5 G’s. You will experience total weightlessness as you are rocketing over 390 feet above the ground, surrounded by the scenic view of Orlando — The City Beautiful.
Quite a sight to see if you dare to open your eyes while on the “Worlds Largest Slingshot!”
“Let’s do it!” I urged my brothers. They looked at me like I had just suggested jumping off a bridge (which, as it turned out was not dissimilar to our impending experience).
“Are you nuts?!” Patrick asked.
“I’m turning 65! If I’m ever going to do this it needs to be sooner than later.”
“Why do it at all?” Michael asked.
“Being together makes me feel young and kind of foolish again, and I like the feeling,” I said.
I could see Patrick wavering and I pounced with a promise to pay. My brother takes after our father in his frugality so my offer was persuasive.
“Ok! Let’s do this.” No amount of cajoling could persuade Michael to come so he agreed to be the videographer.
I don’t remember ever being quite so terrified. I guess I was screaming as we were catapulted upwards. My brother was screaming too, only he was actually thrilled. “I feel totally weightless,” he said. We rocked back and forth, plummeted downward, then shooting back up. (Click here to see a video of our experience)
I was quite happy when our feet touched the ground. And I guess I was a little proud. I wasn’t too old to have a bit of an adventure. And adventures don’t always have to be big and bold.
Adventures come in many sizes and forms and help us feel young all over again. As we age into our 60s and 70s, and even 80s (George H. Bush jumped from a plane on his 80th and 85th birthdays and from a helicopter on his 90th!) let’s take a sip or two from the Fountain of Youth, at least on occasion.
Try something even just a little bit out of your comfort zone.
Now wild horses could not drag me back on that ride again but the upshot is that I also got great street cred with my kids, staff, and friends. And let’s say it together…that is just priceless!
Liz Kitchens is a writer and blogger. Her blog, Be Brave. Lose the Beige, reaches out to Lady Boomers, women of the Baby Boomer generation.
Liz also blogs for Growing Bolder and Vibrant Nation, two sites devoted to aging issues. Liz conducts workshops on the health benefits of creativity and is an ambassador for the Creative Caregiving Initiative sponsored by the NCCA, The National Center for Creative Aging. Liz founded the Jeremiah Project, an after school and summer creative arts program designed to foster self esteem and encourage creative thinking among at risk middle school aged students.