The Illusion of Control

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Do you like roller coasters?

I did when I was a kid.

My parents took us 4 children to Coney Island, an amusement park near Cincinnati.  When we walked up to the roller coaster, my brother and I insisted my Dad take us.  My Dad relented and we three lined up to ride.  My Dad was apprehensive.  We giggled with excitement.

When we got to the operator, there was a life-sized cutout of a cartoon character that was slightly bigger than me.  That was the problem.  I was deemed too short to ride.  My older brother, just slightly bigger, barely passed.  Disappointed, I turned back and sullenly walked back to where Mom was waiting at the ride exit.

"I never get to have ANY of the fun."  

I couldn't see my dad and brother during the ride.  All I heard was the rumbling carts as they zipped by like speeding trains.  

At last, I spotted Dad and my brother coming down the exit lane.  My brother was SUPER excited and was begging Dad to ride again.

Dad was white as a sheet.

Dad recounted the harrowing ride to my Mom.  You see, as they zipped up and down and over a big hump, my brother lifted OUT of his seat and past the little bar that was supposed to hold him in.  My Dad reached across and YANKED him back in his seat by his pants belt!

That was the last time I ever saw my Dad ride a roller coaster or even go to any kind of amusement park.

Alas, this post isn't about the dangers of roller coasters.  

It's about my brother.  After he almost got killed, why didn't he have any fear?  

We love roller coasters because they're fast and curvy.  They do wild things to our bodies and stomach.  We love to scream and take our hands OFF the bar and throw them in the air.  We think we're living dangerously!

But really, WHY do we love roller coasters?

One word.


Roller coasters give us the ILLUSION of a loss of control.  We briefly allow ourselves to believe this is the most dangerous 2.5 minutes of our lives.  We scream with ENJOYMENT!

Behind that illusion of a loss of control, we have faith.  When we strap into a roller coaster, we have…

  • Faith in the straps that hold us in  
  • Faith in every tiniest part of the roller coaster
  • Faith in the person who designed the ride 
  • Faith in the 22-year-old ride operator
  • Faith in the person sitting next to us

Life works the same way except reversed.

We have an ILLUSION of control.  We allow ourselves to believe we are safe for most of our lives.  We believe we control all the variables.  

When something like the Pandemic arrives, we feel a loss of that control.  We panic.  We declare a loss of freedom when in fact we are frightened by the loss of control we never had!

Life deals us unexpected twists and turns.  There are steep rises, bumps and drop-offs.  We may even be lifted off our seats in moments.

And with all that, how can we endure these times when our Illusion of control lies broken at our feet.  



  • Faith in our beliefs
  • Faith in our ability to figure things out
  • Faith in our ability to adapt and navigate these turbulent times
  • Faith in each other
  • Faith in humanity

In the totality of our human history, we endured everything thrown at us so far.  Through it all, we not only endured.  We evolved.  

You can do this.  You will do this.  You are evolving.

Just strap in and have a little Faith.


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