Saturday, January 25, 2014


At the end of the school day a fourth grader approached me asking what is suspenseful. He wanted to know if there is such a word. I qualified the answer with a feeling. I asked him did he ever see a scary movie and know that something is going to happen. I asked him to imagine the tightness in his stomach. He understood that feeling. But there is also a time when it can be a good thing that will eventually happen. In this case it could be looking forward to a special event. It can be a big trip or a holiday. He walked away satisfied with my answers.

I remember watching the film Jaws. The opening scene was the shark's approach to a swimmer. We visualized the approach through the shark's eyes. Of course there were more shark attacks through the film, providing the movie goers suspense. I clenched the arms of the my seat in the theater. There were probably more people there that night that did the same.

I'm not an amusement park rider. I don't enjoy that feeling of helplessness in going high or twisting through a turn in high velocity. There are people who enjoy the feeling of suspense. Amusement parks seem to build more thrilling rides than the old roller coasters. There is only one roller coaster ride that I will ride and that is Thunder Mountain in Disney World. I do feel the suspense of the cars climb and then pause before they plunge downward. Maybe what seems comforting to me is the landscape around the tracks. It's supposed to be a run away tram car through a mine and into the mountains. I still clench the bar that holds us securely in place.

What would our lives be without suspense? The entertainment industry seems to cater to that need. The films today are violent and the rides in amusement parks seem to challenge a person's resolve to live through the intense minutes of a ride. There are events in life that happen without design. Winter driving is suspenseful. Suspense builds up at every intersection when I place my foot on the brake. Is there ice under the snow? We've seen televised accidents reported throughout our state and country. At least there's no physical damage done on an amusement ride. But I'm braver getting into my car to drive on winter days. Suspense is part of living.


  1. I have to admit to being one of those who love roller-coasters and the bigger, faster, higher the better!! Several studies have been done as to why certain people 'thrill-seek', not only those who ride roller-coasters, but those who do even more extreme thrill-seeking such as bungee-jumping and skydiving. Although no consensus has been reached by these studies as yet, many seem to point to neuro-chemical imbalances or needs. The New York Times featured THIS ARTICLE about it as far back as 1988.

    1. Mitch, thanks for providing this link to the article. It substantiates what I always believed to be the make up of thrill seekers. I'm not judgmental and if people like these rides, more power to them.