Zorbing: A Gigantic Hamster Ball and the Meaning of Life


“The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
— Albert Camus

I’ve declared repeatedly how empowering it is to face my fears and bask in my newly expanded comfort zone, but I would have liked to skip my latest challenge: zorbing.

What is zorbing? Picture a gigantic hamster ball. Insert a woman who is worried she will vomit. Strap her in, and cue the soundtrack: “Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.”

Roll her, ass over teakettle, down a bumpy hill.

Driving nearly three hours to reluctantly take a thirty-second ride gave me a lot of time to reflect on whether it’s worth it to put myself through the things that I do.

I’ve always been goal oriented, always pushed or pulled myself a certain way, finding meaning in the struggle. It wasn’t fun to put myself through college, several years of hovering near the poverty line with long hours spent hitting the books after working all day, but getting the degree made it worth it, of course.

What about choosing to do stressful things for fun? I am nearly through my list of completing 101 things in 1001 days, and some of the tasks are of questionable value.

I used to teach Camus’ essay “The Myth of Sisyphus.” Sisyphus, a character from Greek mythology who defied the gods, endures one of the most terrible punishments they ever doled out. He pushes a massive boulder up a hill, struggling through the pain, to see it roll back down again. Over and over. For eternity. And that’s life. We endure misery that accomplishes nothing only to do it again and again. That’s quite the message to lay on teenagers in high school English class.

This was all swirling through my mind as my husband and I arrived at the zorbing site. My queasy stomach turned over, and I considered backing out. My husband, who drove me all that way, would not even pretend that was an option.

zorbingI nervously got onto a conveyor belt that carried me up the hill. On the way up, I passed a sign — “Caution: Always be aware of other tubers” — and had a vision of an evil Mr. Potato Head attacking me in my zorb.

A staff member opened a creaky gate, and I started rolling down the hill backwards. My world was filled with blue sky, and, a split-second later, green grass. Then blue sky, then green grass, blue sky, green grass, blue, green, blue, green, faster and faster, while I bounced along disoriented on a pillow of air.


Then a guy poked his head in, asking if I was all right. He looked a little sheepish and explained that I really picked up speed in the end, that I won the award for fastest of the day.

I zipped out of the hole like it was a playground slide, gasping, “That was crazy.”


The twist at the end of Camus’ essay is that, with the boulder settled at the foot of the mountain, Camus imagines Sisyphus happy. Life may be absurd, but we control our reactions to it.

So I too am happy when I check each challenge off my list. They’re all worth it: the good ones, the bad ones, the silly ones, the profound ones. Sometimes my challenges have taught me something, made me proud, let me share a special moment with the people I love.

And sometimes I’m just glad I didn’t vomit.

(Link to zorbing video)

101 things in 1001 days #58 (101 things in 1001 days): Go zorbing.

About Marcy

I blog about trying to get out of my comfort zone, completing 101 things in 1001 days (and beyond), and writing my memoirs. My book: Timid No More.

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49 Responses to Zorbing: A Gigantic Hamster Ball and the Meaning of Life

  1. beebeesworld says:

    The huge ball makes me nauseous to thing of! I’ve seen videos of people riding it and I feel I am not alone! beebeesworld

  2. Katie says:

    Interesting. Never heard of “zorbing” and come to find out, I could do it right in my backyard (I live a hop, skip & jump from Amesbury Sports Park.) I think watching you do it is enough for me to live vicariously through you!
    Katie recently posted..Bon Jovi Concert RecapMy Profile

  3. Christina says:

    Ha, LOVE the last line. 🙂 This is a great post. I love that you’re so adventurous.
    Christina recently posted..finally seeing thingsMy Profile

  4. Amber says:

    Wow, never knew what zorbing was. I have to say, it does not look fun to me!

  5. No way am I going to climb into one of those anus-looking holes to roll my way to kingdom come. For me it’s all about the enclosed space. CANNOT handle it. No no no no. Don’t want to face that fear!
    That Unique* Weblog recently posted..Glad I Saw It: Reading on DeckMy Profile

  6. Stacie says:

    That’s just crazy! I’ve never heard of it. I’d go all claustrophobic and throw up, I’m sure!
    Stacie recently posted..I’m Torn Between Feeling Fortunate and Throwing UpMy Profile

  7. I think that looks fun. I’m not sure, but I think so!
    (That’s one of my favorite songs you used in the video.)
    Michelle Longo recently posted..Please Stop Calling Me.My Profile

  8. That is one of the bravest things I’ve heard of! Good for you!
    Kristy @Loveandblasphemy recently posted..Defined Lines (We Ain’t a Good Girl)My Profile

  9. This looks so AWESOME….I’d love to do that…You go lady 🙂
    Shanique Roca recently posted..One Step Past ComfortMy Profile

  10. kp Attman says:

    I’ll remember that for my next life challenge: Sometimes I’m also just glad I haven’t vomited through it all.
    kp Attman recently posted..The Vacation DilemmaMy Profile

  11. Maybe I am out of touch, but I have never heard of “zorbing” or the phrase “ass over tea kettle,” which, incidentally, may be my new favorite phrase of all time!

    • Marcy says:

      I don’t know where the heck I heard it. I Googled it for one odd momentary second thinking I might have invented it, but alas I didn’t. I know I’m supposed to avoid cliches (like the plague), but it just seemed too perfect for that situation. 🙂

  12. Louise says:

    I’m not squeamish and this might have made me sick! I enjoyed the mythology tie-in too – I learnt a new story I can use. And I had to fight the urge to add on to your previous comment that clichés are to be avoided, like the plague, because they are old hat… 😉
    Louise recently posted..Organized Learning and FunMy Profile

  13. Joe says:

    I think I threw up a little bit just from watching that. I’m glad you had fun. Zorbing doesn’t always end well. It’s a good thing you’ll be watching this video AFTER your adventure.

  14. Oh my gosh, OH MY GOSH – that looks terrifying. !
    Natalie – The Cat Lady Sings recently posted..Walmart TrunksMy Profile

  15. I love your ending! I think it is so great that you are doing this, inspires me to push outside of my comfort zone!
    Is Everyone an Idiot but Me? recently posted..Idiot of the Week: I Can Do Anything You Can Do BetterMy Profile

  16. LOVE the picture of you getting out – great smile!
    Cindy – The Reedster Speaks recently posted..Orientation.My Profile

  17. I like your honesty in this post. The opening lines really drew me in. It’s refreshing to hear you admit that you didn’t necessarily become a better person through zorbing.
    that cynking feeling recently posted..Turning trash into treasureMy Profile

  18. dorothyadele says:

    What a wild ride! It would make me nauseated.
    dorothyadele recently posted..My Magazine Photo From 1977 RepublishedMy Profile

  19. Mamarific says:

    I am in awe of you for pushing yourself to do these things. And it’s obviously a good thing, given your wonderful smile getting out of that crazy ball. You’re braver than I!
    Mamarific recently posted..Toothpicks from HeavenMy Profile

  20. Gina says:

    Well, I learned a few things today like what zorbing is, that I would like to do it, but shouldn’t (see joe’s video). I lived the accompanying pictures!
    Gina recently posted..Yeah Write: The Day I Stole A GobletMy Profile

  21. Great post! My husband and I were just watching a program on zorbing and we can’t wait to try it. 🙂
    Jennifer Avventura recently posted..Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to PatternsMy Profile

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