What doesn’t kill us makes us Stronger?
When I was a little boy I was afraid of heights, I remember being at the top of the Calgary Tower with my family. The tower has windows all along the observation deck. The view is great and there is nothing blocking your view for 360˚ around the outside perimiter out any of the windows. They even have a plexiglass floor section that you can look down through the floor to the street below (more on that later). Anyway when I was a kid we took trip to the top and my family headed straight for the windows, I couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 years old and I remember playing a video game against the inner wall of the tower on the observation deck, as far away from the window as possible. Well my father thinking I was being anti-social came over and asked me to join them. I said I was okay where I was and like any normal parent he wasn’t going to let me play video games when there was a spectacular view to be had, I don’t blame him. So he grabbed my arm proceeded to head for the windows. As I got closer to the windows I felt the terror start to bubble up inside me. Like two polarizing magnets, the window and me were fighting each other in my mind. I couldn’t get any closer so I started to resist which just made my dad pull me harder. Just then on the edge of panic, I couldn’t help it, I yelled “No!” loudly with a panic in my voice that anyone could here. Probably pretty embarrassing for my dad, you could see people looking over at us with that “What’s he doing to that kid” look on their faces. But my father didn’t care, he looked at me with compassion and understanding. I explained to him that anytime I was close to a window that was up high that it felt like a rope was pulling me through it from my chest, that my knees would get weak and I would feel a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I also said I didn’t know why it felt wrong it just was. He understood and let me be.
Over the years I have gotten over the panic and have conquered my fear of heights but there is still remnants of it. I was looking through the glass floor of the Calgary Tower down to the street, I could feel tiny familiar feelings from when I was a kid, the knees, the rope and I was being cautious and deliberate when my brother jumped behind me and scared the crap out of me, if I was a cat I would have been hanging from the roof. Also my anxiety before my ride on the Supreme Scream at Knotts Berry Farm. You get lifted 254 feet in the air, then they drop you. Half way up it was way too high.
You see I go on these rides or when my brother scares the shit out of me and I am exhilarated after the fact. To step over that boundary that our mind holds us back from and come back unscathed is an extreme sport in itself. Maybe thats the new extreme sport genre Phobias (click the link for a complete list). If you’re an Achluophobiac just shut off the lights, if you’re an Amaxophobiac just go for a ride in a car, Chorophobiac head to the nearest club and get your groove on. The list is endless and cheaper than skydiving.
And finally if you’re Acrophobiac (fear of heights) like me, do what these guys are doing in this trailer for a new web documentary coming this month called Skyliners Paris.