Reaching New Heights

Bridges, Chicago’s Hancock Building, the Space Needle, and the Empire State Building all terrify me.  Like many, I have a fear of heights.  The fresh air, the wind in my hair, and cars the size of bugs do not exhilirate or inspire me.  Instead I cry for the feeling of terra firma directly under my feet, not thousands of feet under.

Now my fear has not stopped me from driving on bridges or from going to the top of each structure.  I am normally with other people, and I do not want to limit them with my irrational phobia.  This summer is going to provide me with the ultimate challenge: the London Eye.  The Eye is a mega-ferris wheel in which people enter glass bubbles and can see all of London around them.  Basically you’re floating in air and can look straight down. This time I will not be with eye-rolling friends and family, but with students.  I want to convey to them that they need to try new things when they have the opportunity to do them, and not be haunted by the “I shouldas”.  When I went to Europe the first time at age 15, there were some opportunities I passed up that I regret today.  One being not going to Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam and the other was refusing to join a Spanish tour group in flamenco dancing.  I was too shy and afraid of embarrassing myself.  Not dancing is my biggest regret. Unlike Anne Frank’s house that I can still visit, my time with the Spaniards was a once in a lifetime moment.  What was the worst that could happen?  I would make a fool out myself in front of people who would never see me again?  Most likely they wouldn’t have cared and would have been happy that I joined in.  And what a story it would make!

So I think of Beryl Markham who flew solo as a bush pilot in Kenya and her reflections of looking at the world below.  I think of all of the people at the 1893 World’s Fair Exposition wh braved the first Ferris wheel.  I think of looking at Big Ben from a bench along the Thames and from up in the air.  I think of my students and the lessons they will learn from my example.  I think I might just do it.

Related Articles: 

People: You Might Just As Well Meet Some of Them

The London Eye: Taking it all in from above

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20 thoughts on “Reaching New Heights

  1. Oohh, the London Eye. Yes, I’m with you there. I would do it, and just would not look down. It *will* be worth it. Consider: you will be in a bubble that completely encases you. No wind. No openness. It moves slowly – no swingy motions.

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t do the Empire State if you paid me. If forced to go up there, I’d make myself flat as a flounder on the floor. Or hug the wall, or the base of that binocular mount. (Binoculars? Who wants the up-close of someone on the street who, with naked eye, looks like a pinhead from up there?).

    You’ll be fine. And the students will keep you busy with questions. 8)

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

  2. Love, love, love this post!

    Hope you manage to gather the courage to do it. Even if you never do it again ever in you life, at least you can say you did try it and by doing so, conquered one of your fears! I’ll be rooting for you 🙂

  3. Great post! Strange how fear holds us back when we’re young. When we mature and look back on opportunities missed ,we then muster up the courage of a lion and are willing to tackle the world, one frightful step at a time!

    1. It reminds me if the flowers in Alice in Wonderland. Those who were asleep we’re in soft soil, and those who were awake we’re in the hard soil. Difficult things keep us alert! Thank you!

  4. We just came back from Chicago – the Sears Tower (now called The Willis Tower), and went out on The Ledge – OMG. I was TERRIFIED. It’s an enclosed square lookout on the 107th floor, and the floor of The Ledge is ALSO GLASS. Eeek. One lady next to me walked towards it and said “OH DEAR JESUS!!!!” so loud that everyone turned around and smiled. I didn’t feel so bad after that. And I did go step out on it. Briefly….:)

    1. I’m headed to Chicago this fall, and that is one thing I will not be doing! I did go on the London Eye, and I plan to rest on those laurels for awhile. I don’t think I’m quite over it. But isn’t Chicago a great city? I was fortunate enough to have had grandparents who lived right off of Michigan Ave, and I have many happy memories there.

      1. I did love Chicago! My brother lives there, and we had a grand time. My first time. So much to see and so many grand buildings with history and stories. LOVED the shopping, too. Lots of shoppers in Chicago. And walkers! My goodness, I could barely keep up with him and his girlfriend! 🙂

      2. Funny you should mention the walkers… I chose our hotel because of its close proximity to the lake and walking path. I plan to get two lakeside morning walks in during our visit. Chicago is hard to beat (unless you consider NY, but that’s in a category all its own).

      3. Yes – we split our time between my brothers area (Oak Park) and downtown, and stayed at the Marriott downtown. Excellent location! Not a big fan of New York – love the city and its history, but I’m not a New Yorker kinda gal. 🙂

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