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The Golden Ring

In my hometown of Spokane, Washington there is a carousel in the park downtown. It is a beautiful old hand carved carousel, built over one hundred years ago. I have wonderful memories of picking out my favorite among the intricately detailed horses and mounting up to spin around and around until the world was a giddy blur of color and faces and tinny band organ music. The ride is a true work of art and generations of children have polished the backs of those wooden horses over the years. But along with the exhilaration of riding the carousel, my favorite part of the ride was the rings. When I was a kid there was a long mechanical arm that stuck out from the wall offering brightly colored rings and the goal was, if you were tall enough, to reach out and grab the ring. I’ll never forget the sensation of stretching my arm as far as I could, leaning against the seat strap and hooking my finger around one of the treasures. And oh, the victorious surge of excitement if by some miracle you snagged the golden ring and won a free ride! Sometimes life feels like a perpetual carousel ride, doesn’t it? We go round and round and up and down, all while holding on to the slick pole for dear life and trying not to slide out of that precarious seat. Sometimes the ride moves quickly and events and faces blur into melded memories, leaving you breathless at the speed in which days pass. Other times the ride plods along as you are waiting for something, or someone, to push a button or pull a lever, anything to accelerate the wheels as it grinds its slow gears toward your goals. In the past few years of pursing a writing career, I have felt a lot like I did, thirty years ago, on that carousel when I was finally tall enough to go for the rings. Standing in a long line for a ticket, I studied which horse I should choose. Will it be the one on the outside? The one with the most risk? Or will it be the stationary horse, the safe choice but with a narrow chance at reaching the ring? And then, after I pulled together the courage to mount, the rides starts out slow, gear upon gear turning faster, un