Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Simply Irrational

I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day. He asked me for the irrational fear that I'd most like to conquer. I like to think that I have a pretty good mix of the rational and irrational when it comes to fears and would love to conquer all of them, but the answer was easy: my fear of heights. I've walked along the edge of the bluffs overlooking Lake Superior, a long way up, and looked down with no feeling other than awe for the beauty of the landscape. Put me on top of a six-foot ladder, however, and my knees are knocking at a pretty good clip. I think that combining those two scenarios would qualify the fear as irrational.

The next question that he asked was the one that got me thinking, though: What would I do differently if I managed to conquer the fear? The easy answer is that I'd have a much easier time with certain aspects of housework. I wouldn't need a wall nearby to nearly claw my fingernails into every time I tried to change certain light bulbs. I'd change out certain light fixtures myself rather than hiring someone else. But really, would my life change if I eliminated that fear? Frankly, I really had to think hard about the answer because I have no concept of what my life would be like without getting a sense of vertigo when I climb a fire tower or feeling very off-balance working over my head on a ladder.

I wondered about roller coasters. I love the feeling of speed, but I hate the painfully slow climb of the car as it climbs that initial hill before the speed portion begins. It terrifies me to watch the ground slowly creep further and further away. Without the fear, it's possible that I'd enjoy those more.

Skydiving. I might be willing to try that, too. But with a fear of heights, the idea of jumping out of a perfectly functional plane seems wildly ridiculous. No bungee jumping, though. I just don't trust that piece of rubber...

I might take a greater interest in lighting for television and the theater. I've always been very curious about how certain effects are created, but with the inability/extreme unwillingness to go into the light grid, the opportunity to be educated in such things is very limited.

I don't know that I'm motivated to conquer the fear at this point, but I want to keep thinking about my friend's question. I'd like to think that conquering the fear would open a multitude of opportunities. But when I don't necessarily know what I'm missing, I don't necessarily know what I'd want.


  1. And think of all the trees out there just waiting to be climbed.

  2. I know what you mean. I absolutely understand the thrill that must be involved in free falling. But forcing myself out the door of a fully-operation airplane?

    I don't think so!

  3. That's about the same reason I've never looked into surgery to fix my sense of smell. It doesn't bother me; sure I might be missing out on some things, but I don't miss them now.

  4. Dan, You'll have to ask Jeff about that. Ten times now he's thrown himself out of perfectly good working airplane. Funny that I get nervous boarding one that I don't have to jump out of.