Afraid of Being Too Close to the Edge

When Maureen, the older of my two stepdaughters, visited my wife and me for Thanksgiving this year, we had some spirited discussions. But what really caught my attention were her comments about para-sailing  and wanting to do sky diving sometime–and obviously meaning it.

Okay, Maureen. More power to you, girl. I was the only one in my group who didn’t even go zip gliding in Nicaragua.

For many years I’ve thought of myself as acrophobic–afraid of heights. I’m not as bad about that now as I used to be, though, and I don’t think I ever totally panicked when I was in a high place.

I’d never flown until I was in my early-to-mid twenties. Not because I was afraid of it. I’d just never needed to or had the opportunity to.

But my landlord owned a small plane, and when he invited me to look at our part of Maryland’s beautiful Eastern Shore from the air, I jumped at the chance. I felt vaguely uncomfortable being up there, especially since the plane was so small, but I didn’t hesitate when my first need to fly on a commercial flight arose a short time later.

But I remember two specific instances when I almost panicked under different circumstances. Both while I was an adult.

I worked summers at a conference center in North Carolina, and one summer I was in charge of filling the numerous canned drink machines throughout the campus. To do that, I loaded a van with what I thought I would need each day and headed off to get as close as I could to each machine to avoid toting the drinks any further than necessary.

The catch was leaving the storage office. A seven or eight foot drop beside the parking lot required some careful maneuvering in a heavily loaded vehicle that came complete with a stick shift. As far as I recall, I panicked every day until I’d safely made that turn.

The other instance took place in the nearby Smoky Mountains. I’d stopped at an overview to look at the distant scenery, but as I approached the wall that was meant to protect people from the severe drop on the other side, I couldn’t do it. I was terrified. So terrified that I finally had to crawl up to the wall on my hands and knees. Even then, was I evermore relieved to get away from that place.

So, there you have it. Maybe I’m not actually afraid of heights–I’ve climbed a few ladders I should’ve been more afraid of–but of being too close to the edge.

Hmm. Wonder if there’s a phobia-word for that.

Are you afraid of anything in an almost-phobic way? How about sharing it with us via a comment?


I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

Best regards,

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