When I ride on a roller coaster, I love to ride in the front seat. Everything seems to happen right now when you sit in the front. I put my arms up, of course, no holding on, no matter what the coaster does. Upside down, slammed to the side, you name it. It’s just more fun to be on the leading edge of the experience, arms up, come what may.

I realized recently that this same attitude is very important to take with life in general. Especially with thoughts and feelings. We usually “ride” our thoughts and feelings, especially our unpleasant feelings, in the back seat, as far from the leading edge as possible. We hope that the unpleasant ones will simply go away, and if we sit far enough away from them, maybe they will. But they never do. All feelings will keep returning until they are experienced fully.

More and more I’ve had the experience of moving to the front seat and experiencing most of my feelings and thoughts head on. While I can feel everything more powerfully, and some things seem a little more frightening, the whole experience feels more alive and interesting. It feels almost invigorating. I feel like I’m on the leading edge of my life, and it feels good.

In many senses, being on the leading edge is what awakening is all about. We wake-up from riding on a roller coaster with our eyes closed, holding on for dear life, sure we are going to die a horrible death. And we awaken to the realization that the sun is out, the coaster is flying 90 miles per hour, we are strapped in and loving the ride, moment to moment, in the front seat.


Creative Commons License credit: alex quintana

The leading edge. That sums it up. We are like surfers, riding the leading edge of the wave, hanging out on the front side. We may always be in the Now as Eckhart Tolle would say, but we can either live it hanging off the back end or riding the leading edge, wind in our faces, hair blowing, shouting, “Yeah baby!”

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22 Responses to Riding the Leading Edge

  1. Shadowduck says:

    Now that sounds like something worth waking up for! “Yeah baby!” :D

  2. Evan says:

    No, I don’t think being a manic sensate is the same as awakening (comment by an intuitive and a thinker).

    Evan’s last blog post..The Light of Love and Truth

  3. Tom Stine says:

    @Shadowduck You got it.

    @Evan Ah, come on, Evan. You’re no fun. :-D Okay, seriously, I’m not talking being a “manic sensate.” But the awakened state has a certain sense of “what’s next?” at all moments. Always there right on the edge. Not “living on the edge” but on the leading edge of the moment. Always fully meeting experiences in the fullest possible sense.

  4. Evan says:

    My favourite description of this is ‘elated calmness’.

    Evan’s last blog post..The Light of Love and Truth

  5. Hey Tom, totally agree with you … we can’t run away from all the unpleasant things in our lives and just wish them away. If we’re meant to learn something from them, they’ll just keep coming back in various forms. It’s interesting how this article coincides with what I’ve been pondering over the past 2 weeks. Maybe I’m not as brave as you, sitting at the front of the roller coaster! For me, I just call it finding my equilibrium. :) Great post Tom.

    Irene | Light Beckons’s last blog post..Finding Our Equilibrium

  6. Great article!

    I’m a skier and snowboarder, not a surfer. The fact is that you can only ski or ride a snowboard if you lean forward. As soon as you lean back, you lose control. Leaning forward can be quite scary if you’re staring down a steep slope!

    And that’s what it’s like for me when I have to face difficulties in life. If I lean back or turn away from whatever is in front of me, I end up scared and frozen. If, on the other hand, I lean into what is difficult, the fear actually lessens.

  7. Mark says:

    Tom, I think I have had way to many in the front seat moments in my life the last few weeks. Because honestly my mind is “Toast” right now.I want to sit in the back for a while let me know when the roller coaster stops so I can get off. :)

  8. Hi Tom, I’m really inspired by this message.
    It’s very much happens with procrastinators. They think that delaying things is a better way.

    But they need to learn that eventually they need to do it. They may complain they’re very busy, but in fact it’s because they do it last minute.

    Really encouraged by this message.
    Thanks,
    Robert

    Robert A. Henru’s last blog post..How failures can make you smile

  9. Love this article. We do need to meet each moment with courageous curiosity, in order to be fully present to all that we can learn and receive.

    “Manic sensate” – what an interesting term! Yeah, I don’t think it’s about self-indulgent wallowing, either. Evan, I like the term “elated calmness” – I think that captures it well!

    Blessings,
    Andrea

    Andrea|Empowered Soul’s last blog post..Intuition: Setting Short-Term Intentions

  10. Tom Stine says:

    @Evan I’m with Andrea, I like that too.

    @Irene Cool how we so often find “confirmation” coming at us, isn’t it? And a little secret: you already ARE sitting in the front seat.

    @Mark Okay to be a little toast. You just keep flowing with the ride. Fortunately, you can’t get off. :-) Be well, my friend.

  11. Tom Stine says:

    @Mary Another excellent metaphor, skiiing! I used to lean back when I skied, totally afraid I was going to “fall” down the mountain. Isn’t that hilarious. In a sense, skiing is all about falling down the mountain. I guess I had seen way too many “agony of defeat” moments on Wide World of Sports. You are right, Mary, the trick is to lean into what comes.

    @Eric Thanks.

  12. Tom Stine says:

    @Robert Glad you felt inspired. That is a wonderful compliment.

    @Andrea I’m glad you enjoyed it. Curiosity, that’s it! What will happen next? Always open to it.

    To everyone: Namaste.

  13. Davidya says:

    Hi Tom
    I laughed when I read this. I hate roller coasters. (laughs) Sense of balance too fussy or something. But I fully agree with the idea. And the surfer motif is perfect. I describe this as stepping out of resistance and into the flow. It does compel us to deal with that which has been resisted, but once allowed, we open ever further. Being in the flow is MUCH better than holding back. We may get the occasional bugs in the teeth but the happiness cannot be described. I look forward to your description of the rapture. (laughs)

    Davidya’s last blog post..Do it, Please

  14. Tom Stine says:

    @Davidya I had no idea so many people don’t like roller coasters. I’m glad I tossed in the surfer analogy! I completely agree: flow with bugs in teeth much, much better.

    As for the rapture, now I’m the one that is laughing! Around here, the rapture is The Rapture. That was my first thought as I read your comment. You see lots of bumper stickers that say, “In case of Rapture, this car will be driverless.” *sigh*

  15. Pingback: The Rapture « In 2 Deep

  16. Davidya says:

    Hi Tom
    Well, actually I did mean The Rapture. But I don’t quite see it the same way as might be typical. Rather than explain here, I’ve posted a piece to explain. A little long and off-topic. But riding the edge…

    Oh – and the bumper sticker has relevance (laughs)

    Davidya’s last blog post..The Rapture

  17. NIW says:

    Hi Tom,
    I agree, but it’s so hard to reach the leading edge when you lived oll your previous life in the back seat. I don’t give up, i hold on but sometimes i can’t understand if i’m going with the flow or i’m going upriver…..
    anyway wonderful post, it gives me another bit of power to go ahead

  18. NIW says:

    Hi Tom,
    I agree, but it’s so hard to reach the leading edge when you lived all your previous life in the back seat. I don’t give up, i hold on but sometimes i can’t understand if i’m going with the flow or i’m going upriver…..
    anyway wonderful post, it gives me another bit of power to go ahead

  19. Tom Stine says:

    @NIW Thanks, glad to have your comments! One way to easily go with the flow is to ask yourself often, “what is the next most obvious thing for me to do?” The key is obvious. And then do it. You begin to discover more of the flow, less of the swimming upstream. Helps get you into the front seat.

  20. Davidya says:

    Well put Tom. I would also add to watch for resistance. When there is resistance, you are pushing against something. It may be the right action but the wrong time. Perhaps something else has to come first. The next most obvious thing. ;-) Or perhaps you are pushing against the flow and there is a better choice. The thing to do then is observe. Pay attention. And then the next obvious thing will present itself, sometimes quite literally.

    Davidya’s last blog post..The Rapture

  21. Derek says:

    Bravo! A pertinent post for our times. We need to step out of our comfort zone and face our fears and anxieties in order to reach our true potential. For a lot of my life, I instinctively backed or leaned away from discomfort and change and truthful reflection. After many years of struggle, I now feel fully alive and engaged when I lean into the edge,and the rush is wind in my sails…
    Thanks for the great post.

    Derek’s last blog post..10 Things I Love About Fatherhood

  22. Tom Stine says:

    @Derek *bow* Thank you for your comments! You said the words: engaged and alive. That’s it. You lean in and you feel it. Life moves. Thanks for reading and commenting.