Monday, March 28, 2011

Ahh Haaaaa


I had an epiphany the other day in regards to my fear of heights. In one brief, abstract moment I realized where my fear originated from--and it all can be blamed on Karl Wallenda and his high wire act.

On March 22, 1978, Karl Wallenda was in Puerto Rico doing what he had done since he was six years old--performing. As cameras were recording his sauntering on a high wire, 120 some odd feet in the air with no net, the 73-year-old slipped and fell to his death.

I was watching it. I can still see him swaying in the wind. Apparently, the video is still out in the Internet for those who've never seen it. I can't rewatch it. Once was enough.

From that point on, I feared heights. When I was a kid I would climb onto things and not be afraid at all. From 1978 on, that wasn't the case. Just the thought of it even now gives me the willies.

I'm thinking that was the first video I've seen that showed a real person dying. I had blocked that out all these years and boom, out it slips when I least expected it.

Funny how the mind works.

Over the years, I've tried to face my fear of heights. I even went up in a hot air balloon for a newspaper story I was writing. Somehow, I survived. Don't ask me how. The first 100 feet were okay, but after that I froze up. At one point, I had take photos and I had the hardest time removing my hands from the sides of the basket to focus the camera. My mind said move, but my body said, "Hell, no."

I've had panic attacks at two specific landmarks--Moro Rock in the Sequoia National Park and the Grand Canyon.

Moro Rock is a landmark where can you can hike up to and actually walk around the rock. We visited the park in 1990, and my sons were young enough to freak me out as they ran ahead us wherever we walked. I held Jared's hand as we climbed the stairs. Just looking around at the view I started hyperventalating. I held onto my son and tried not to picture my oldest son, Jason, running ahead with his Father, and accidentally falling off the rock. The safety bars surrounding the walkway were a joke. I am amazed more kids don't fall off that mountain.


We visited the Grand Canyon in 2006, during our move to Texas. My husband, two sons, and one dog stopped long enough to check out the view. Me, I got dizzy as we walked toward the edge of the viewing area. Jerry, the boys and even the dog were having a good, old time. Me? My head began to swim and my knees began knocking. I just couldn't handle walking to the edge.

The vastness of the Grand Canyon scared the living heck out of me. It's so, so big!


Now, I can barely hang Christmas lights on the house. I don't think there is any cure for this.

I blame Karl.


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