Monday, November 9, 2009


I hate towers and high places.

Theres this time when I went to the Calgary Tower, in Calgary, Canada.

On the very top of the tower, inside the viewing area, theres a section of the floor, which was made from glass. Meaning, you can see all the way straight down to the street level, without any obstruction.

Upon seeing that, and since I thought that its kind of interesting to feel what its like to stand on the glass floor, coupled with the thinking that perhaps its the best time to conquer my fear of heights, I decided to try and to get on it. Calmed myself, and fought my feeling of anxiety and nervousness. Took me a while debating with myself whether I should do it. Finally, after few long pauses, with a `f**k it, lets do this!' attitude in my head, I took a deep breath and step on the glass floor.

Well, seriously, its actually more like I was down on my all fours and crawled on the glass. To view the street from that very high place, really scared me. But I did it.

I was elated and felt very pleased with myself albeit the crawling thing when suddenly, these 2 kids joined me on the glass floor and started jumping up and down without even the slightest fear of height. (By the way, it is not advisable to drop down on all four limbs in a public area, since people gave me strange looks, with judging eyes). Those kids action jolted me back to my acrophobia state of mind and I quickly retreated to the safety of the non glass floors, breathing a heavy sigh of relief. My colleagues were laughing hysterically.

I looked at them and said " Oh, thats right. You guys will surely burn in hell".


According to Wikipedia, fear of heights is;

"Acrophobia can be dangerous, as sufferers can experience a panic attack in a high place and become too agitated to get themselves down safely."

Like I said, I have this nagging fear of heights.

The Wikipedia definition, and while I am not the most extreme case, more or less describe what I feel whenever I am at very high places.

The thing about it is this, I dont feel any fear if I am at the highest point INSIDE a tall building, on an airplane, or on a mountain. What fear me the most is when I can see that vertical long way down from the point where I am standing at. I will then, be imagining all sorts of thing that can happen to me if I fall down. In that kind of situation, I would always think that if I make a wrong move, I will fall and, its really a long way before I hit the ground, splattered . In those kind of places, I will usually stay away from the edges.

I hate to ride in those glass elevators usually found on the side of a very tall building, which of course other than its main function, to get us up there, is to provide us the enjoyment of viewing a city's beautiful sight and sky line. Usually, I won't have time to leisurely enjoy the view since I'll be busy calming myself down and at the same time gripping the handling beam as tightly as I could, with my fake, nervous smile.

Last 2 weeks, I was instructed by my superior to do a recce work in Chamonix, Mont Blanc. I already heard stories about the route there from Geneva, where a section of the road includes a very high bridge crossing a valley up to a mountain.

"I felt like I was driving on top of a cloud".
"Usually I have no fear of heights, but that bridge really scared the shit out of me".
"I will drive right in middle of the bridge when there is no other cars, to avoid seeing the long way to the ground".

Those were the descriptions of that particular bridge by friends who had been to Chamonix.

I was thinking, if these people were scared to drive on that thing and they are not the kind to fear heights, what that would do to me? I definitely dont want to drive on it myself.

But work is work regardless, so I took the easy way out. I hired a local driver to drive me there. And off we went. After half and hour drive from Geneva, Ahmad pointed out the bridge to me. It was a long, winding and damn it, its really high. I could feel tinge of nervousness crept inside my stomach, tightening its hold. And before we knew it, we were already on the bridge. Ahmad drove slowly but never took his eyes of the road, chatting away the minutes. I was clinging to my seat. After what seems like eternity to me, we were off the bridge. I breathed a sigh of relief, turned around and snapped a few pictures.

Of course, needless to say, I survived the ordeal. Its not a pleasant experience for me and I still did not conquer my fear of heights. The thing is I could easily avoid going there by presenting facts easily obtained information from the Internet. But nothing beats the real thing. I just have to see and experience it myself.

Like the glass floor thing in Calgary Tower, I need to face up to my fear every now and then. Otherwise, I am sure I'll miss a lot of interesting places and experiences.

The thing about all this is, in our life, there are times when we need to face our deepest fears. We may not easily get over it and it may stay and lingers with us all our life, but at least we know we can always give our best shot to overcome it every time we need to.

As for me, the very next on my list to face my fear of heights, if I ever have the opportunity, will be tallest building in the world, Burj Dubai.

But I'll settle for something less, like Petronas Tower's bridge as I have yet to be on it, anyway.