Sunday, October 02, 2005

Don't laugh - this was serious

A few years ago Nin and I went to visit Mexico. We wanted to see the ruins of Chichen Itzá we had read so much about for years. We splurged and purchased the flight from Cozumel to the ruins. I had a purpose when we got there and that purpose was to climb the big pyramid. Now, don't get me wrong. I understand that it is a mere step or two compared to the Great Pyramids of Egypt. But that's all besides the point.

You see, I have a terrible fear of heights. Getting on the roof of the house to clean the gutters is very difficult for me and I dread the twice a year job.

As I stood there, at the bottom of the pyramid and looked up, I felt faint - and I hadn't even taken the first step upward.

I started up with a great deal of determination and courage. As I ascended the steps (ninety one in all) my courage waned and abject fear took over. But there was something inside me that said, "If you don't do this now you will never forgive yourself and you will have have no right to ever speak another word about strenghth or courage for the rest of your life."

About one fourth of the way up I began to pant and sweat. Not from exertion. I'd only gone a small distance. No. I was trying not to cry. I went down to my hands and feet and crawled, sort of, like a dog. And still, with each few steps I thought it couldn't get worse. But it did.

I finally reached the top. There, at the top, was a sort of small square building which I immediately gravitated to and I clung like a barnacle to its side. Nevermind that the edge leading to the steps was 8 or ten feet away. To me, it might as well have disappeared under my feet and in my mind it was no more than a narrow ledge at the top of a tall building in any city.

Anyone with a fear of heights can understand what I'm saying. Where does this fear come from? Why am I so afraid? All I know is that it consumes me at the time. All reason and common sense fly out the window. There's no logic. Only fear.

Nin was there with me and tried to talk to me. At one point he took my hand. I wanted to strike out at him and tell him, "Don't touch me!" I just pulled my hand back and glared at him. He couldn't understand. I could tell. He just looked at me like he might have looked at a stranger. I guess at that moment I "was" a stranger.

But that wasn't the whole of it. Now I had to go down. My God! All sorts of things went through my head. I could just stay here, right? And order out for pizza? I would rather sleep on the cold stone floor of the little building there for the rest of my life than go down those steps, right?

No, I had to go down. Well, the trip down was every bit as frightening. I scooted down on my butt, holding onto the rope fashioned there, stretched from the bottom step to the top for scaredy cats and babies like me. Not only that, but I scooted "to" the edge and the first step down. I couldn't even bring myself to walk in that direction. I scooted all the way down, on my butt, carefully keeping my eyes only on the step below me and trying to pretend that it was the last step each time.

I cannot describe the feeling I had when I got to the bottom. I threw my arms in the air and jogged in place with a grin so wide....

People stared at me as if I was from Mars or maybe I had some sort of mental disorder. They will never know how brave I was. As children ran up and down those steps like it was nothing, and people took photographs of each other at the top, standing near the edge as if they were only standing on a curb, I was fighting for my very life!

I was the bravest person for a hundred miles around me. I could do anything! Next stop - Khufu!

When I turned to Nin later and said, "I am the bravest person in the world," he looked me in the eyes, hugged me and smiled and said, "I know, baby. I know."


At 10/02/2005 08:03:00 PM, Anonymous sarahbella said...

You are my hero. That you took the risk, accomplished the goal, and pat yourself on the back ... I'm proud of you. You are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing that, it reminds us all that fear is something we can overcome with will and determination.

At 10/02/2005 09:23:00 PM, Anonymous narniabound said...

Dang it. I had a nice long comment, but I can't tell if it actually posted. I'll figure this out eventually...

At 10/03/2005 03:20:00 PM, Anonymous Carola aka Cindermutha said...

I have an awful fear of heights too. But climbing things is not a problem... it's always getting down. I've been stuck in trees a few times.

At 10/04/2005 10:46:00 AM, Anonymous class-factotum said...

If Chichen Itza is like any of the other ruins in Mexico, those steps are narrow, too!!! They are really, really hard to climb! Good for you for conquering that fear!

At 10/05/2005 10:50:00 AM, Blogger A Person said...

CF- yes, the stairs are very narrow. My heels hung off the edge. And they're steep too. And I'm still scared of heights. I don't know if I'll ever truly conquer it.

Cinder - So that's you? I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out who you were ;-)


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