I have never been fearful of much.
I am the kind of person who runs headlong into any new situation or new adventure, typically without thinking much. But big cities scare me. Not because of the traffic, the higher likelihood of being mugged or raped, or the possibility of getting lost … but rather the stomach-lurching sensation I get when I look up at tall buildings. My insides turn to mush and I get weak-kneed. It isn’t a fear of heights. I love roller coasters, rappelling, mountains, and flying. So why is it that standing on terra firma, at the base of a building and tilting my head up to observe from a perfectly safe place freaks me out?
I did a little googling (actually, I bing’ed since the whole Cesar Chavez thing) and found out I am not the only freak out there with this strange phobia. It even has a name: Anablephobia.
One website had this to offer:
A person with this fear may be responding to the vastness of what is above them. The feelings of such immense space makes them feel small and perhaps even insignificant. If they can refuse to acknowledge the vastness of space they may feel it is possible to avoid the fear.
Well isn’t that ironic? A fear of insignificance? I have battled my whole life for the approval of others, attempting to live up to someone else’s expectation or desire, never wanting to disappoint. I look up to superheros and even hope to be one. But what if I am cut out to be nothing more than a sidekick in that movie? What if I am not even that, but just an expendable extra? (My good buddy, Mike over at Pop Apocrypha got me thinking about this … read and then subscribe http://apocryphantastic.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/protagonism/). I really don’t want to be just an orc, thanks. Who will remember me when the movie is over? Will I even make it into the credits?
Scientist estimate that there are 70 sextillion stars in the visible universe. How many is that? Only 70 million million. Or a 7 with 22 zeroes behind it. And despite that, Psalm 8:3-4 says, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set into place, who is man that you are mindful of him?” Seriously! And yet, Isaiah 49:16 says he has written our name in the palm of his hand.
My son, Ben, and I went to the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse on his recent leave from the US Navy. My stomach did the little flip-floppy thing just trying to take photographs of the 17 story red brick tower. But remember, I am afraid of nothing … and I am with my kid. No fear. so then, I go inside to make the climb to the top and see this:
Ugghhh. If you haven’t tried it, climbing 17 stories of winding staircase with flip flops and unevenly shaped stairs is not only aerobic exercise … but terrifying for a person who hates looking up. Once we made it, we enjoyed the view of the Atlantic Ocean, the inlet, the Halifax River … and yes, the ground below.
I will be going there again one week from today at sunset to ascend to the top for a rare evening event to enjoy the full moon. And when I stand at the top of the tower 175 feet above the grass below, and I look out at the moon and some of those 70 sextillion stars, I will try to remember to think of ways to affirm my significance in this crazy world … and not to look up.
What affirms your feelings of significance? Or do you struggle like me?