I’ve always been a little leary about heights. Recently, though, they seemed to of gotten worse. Some years ago I was sitting on a ledge that greatly frightened me and asked myself what exactly this feeling felt like. My reaction is quite interesting.
I said that I felt ‘open space’ differently from other people, or so I tend to think. To me, ‘open space’ is not felt as ‘space’. I felt ‘space’ as if it were an object, what you might want to call a ‘negative object’, an object that isn’t there. Sitting there on the ledge, I could definately feel that I felt ‘space’ as ‘something’. Most people, I think, feel it as ‘nothing’. Because of this sense of ‘space as something’ my mind treated it as if it were ‘something’, such as the continuation of land. But I knew it wasn’t. This as if created a dilemma in my mind. One part of me felt ‘space as something’ but another part of me knew it wasn’t. As a result, I seemed to ‘get confused’ by this dilemma. I didn’t know what was true or not. In reality, heights do not fear me but the dilemma of not being able to sense ‘space as nothing’ properly.
I also found that I only feel the fear of heights under certain conditions. Basically, I have to be in a situation where I am ‘on the edge’ between ‘space as obviously there’ and ‘space as nothing’. That is to say, I have to be on something like a path where there is a drop off which is quite dramatic. If the ‘space’ is not felt very strongly I don’t feel much of a fear. If there is something like a brick wall I don’t feel as much of a fear. If it is like made of pipe, so I can see through it, I have to reach out and grab it and slowly work my way up to the edge. In effect, I have to ‘feel vulnerable’ to the open space for it to frighten me.
I’ve described the sense that I feel as if I’m going to fall into the ‘space’. Sometimes, it feels like it is pulling me in like a vacuum. I would not say I feel ‘dizzy’, as is sometimes claimed. I don’t think I ever felt ‘dizzy’. It often feels as if it is pulling me over or that I might fall into it. I seem to feel this because I have a problem sensing this ‘open space’. This creates a strong sense of disorientation in me. As I said above, it is not the heights that scare me but this disorientation.