I have this irrational fear. It causes my legs to shake. I break out in a cold sweat. I start jabbering to anyone near me. As thoughts of certain death run through my mind, the world appears a precious, treasured place. I imagine my own funeral, and then shrink back at the implications of where my thoughts are taking me. My stomach feels odd. My palms are sweaty.
I am absolutely terrified of heights.
Of course, it’s not really the fear of being in a high place like a skyscraper. Rather, it is the view of a long way to fall, of rocks far below me and no substantial wall between the edge and I. My sense of security is screamingly absent. There are no handrails, flimsy though I picture them, or other safety devices. I can rely only on my own surefootedness—or lack thereof.
Despite my fear, two summers ago I somehow found myself climbing to a high place, while quaking inside and out. My family and some friends had taken a vacation out to the Grand Canyon and some of them wanted to go out climbing. I was told to go…
After eating our packed lunches within sight and sound of the fall, many of us wanted to make the climb to an area above it. We knew others had done so on previous trips. A few guys went first to make sure they were on the right path. But after they left, my group of seven decided to go ahead without waiting for them to return. I suspected we were going the wrong way, but I kept silent, figuring that the others knew better. We went along the base of the hill until we reached the climb. It stopped me in my tracks.
The climb ascended steeply above us. The majority of my view was filled with rocks. Looming quite high into the sky, the boulders rose in a tiered manner. Peering back down toward the river, I saw a steep slope of rocks all the way to the water. All I could think about was how far it would be to fall.
My tense thoughts were interrupted by the realization that my friends were already beginning to climb. My anxiety increased as I watched them....