some things I am afraid of

October 7, 2016

I’m not talking about fears like paying the bills or what will happen if Trump wins the election (no no no no no no no no no). I’m talking irrational, gut-roiling, never-leave-you fears.  Stupid primal lizard fears.  Here are some of mine.

Falling.  This only started a few years ago, and it’s really sporadic. I have no problems with natural drops, ladders, driving on mountain roads — anything where I’m in control.  But give me a sharp edge and a long drop, and I get really uncomfortable. Like the interior balconies at various DragonCon hotels.  I think, “I could just go over the edge. I could just do it.”  And then I kind of want to.  No no no no.  I stay away from sharp edges and long drops.

Accidental guillotining.  Strangely enough, I’ve encountered this in a couple of movies/TV shows now, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, and The Adventures of Adele Blanc Sec.  And I can’t get it out of my head.  How awful.  How truly horrible.  I mean, how does that even happen?  And that sound. The swish and thunk. Just no. I will be staying away from guillotines forever.

Mount Everest.  Ah.  This one.  This really is Death Mountain.  The Everest movie that came out last year was on TV a couple weeks ago and I tried watching it, and there’s a long expository lump where the cute doctor tells everyone all the horrible physiological things that can happen to them, against a backdrop of climbers hacking up gouts of blood because of pulmonary edema, and I had to turn it off.  I just didn’t want to see that.  Frozen bodies used as landmarks, extremities lost to skin-blackening frostbite, avalanches, horrorshow all around.  The thing is, there’s really no reason for people to be there, putting themselves through that, but ambition and hubris.  Seriously, no reason at all to be hacking up gouts of blood.  But there you go.  Hundreds of people do it every year.

Of all my irrational fears, this is the one I’m drawn to rather than repelled by. I keep reading about Everest. I watch shows about it. The horror of it — climbers at the edge of death making satellite phone calls to loved ones because they know they’re not going to make it, yikes — is fascinating.  And you know what else?  I kind of want to go.  Not to climb the mountain, god no, I’m not a mountain climber and I would so so die.  But I kind of want to go to Base Camp.  Just to see.  Just to encounter up close some of that crazy death-facing energy.

I could do it. Plenty of trekking expeditions go to Base Camp and no further.  It would still be rough — Base Camp is at 17,000 ft elevation.  But Colorado is an ideal location for training. I’m functional and comfortable at 10,000 ft (my average mountain trip around here).  I have hiking opportunities at 12,000 feet, and can get to 14,000 feet with preparation and planning.  Spend a year doing that, get my red blood cell count up, my stamina up.

I could do it.  I kind of want to.  Just to see that mountain for myself.


7 Responses to “some things I am afraid of”

  1. Rene Says:

    I have the same thing with heights/falling. It’s not vertigo, just the feeling that I could fling myself over the edge pretty easily. I first felt it at the Grand Canyon. As soon as I thought “I could do it,” I backed away.

  2. WanabePBWriter Says:

    I have the cliff thing myself as did my father. From some research may dad did, he found it is a rather common fear and is primarily out of a fear that you could lose control, loss of self-control and just go over.

    No comment on guillotine, however If I were to be executed I think that’s how I would prefer.

    For Everest , I would love to visit base camp for that same reason.
    For Colorado training try James peak above St Mary’s Glacier. One day six miles up and back and the top is about 13,400 or so.

  3. caericarclight Says:

    Most everyone has those “what if I jumped” thoughts. Not out of any desire whatsoever to do it, just because humans are weird. There’s even a term in French – L’appel du vide. The Call of the Void. Made me so happy to find out this was a common thing.

  4. carriev Says:

    Yeah, it’s actually super reassuring to hear other people talk about falling and jumping. It really did just start a few years ago for me, which is part of why it freaked me out so much. And then I turn around and clamber up ladders and rocks and things and don’t get it at all. So weird.

  5. Jo Anne Says:

    I admire you for wanting to push yourself!

  6. I’m always glad to see I’m not the only one who has those “what if I jumped” thoughts. My favorite potential explanation for such thoughts is the one given on an episode of Doctor Who (“The Satan Pit”), which claims that they’re a relic from our tree-swinging ancestors, who developed it as a form of psyching themselves up to leap for the next branch. I have no idea if that’s an actual claim or not, but it sounds the most logical reason for such a counterintuitive thought.

    On a related note, I suffered for a while from a bizarre inversion of acrophobia as well — I found looking up at the sky, particularly when it was cloudless, incredibly disorienting, feeling like I might fall upwards into it and through the stratosphere. Even now, I get a little dizzy sometimes when looking upwards. The closest I’ve ever seen to anyone else having this phobia was this XKCD strip.

  7. Carbonman Says:

    The falling phobia you mentioned is one that makes me think of Poe’ s “The Imp of the Perverse”. His character spoke about the urge to do that thing that would undo him.

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