Since I was a little boy I have been scared of heights. Also, since I was a boy, I loved a good view. These two things don’t really go hand in hand, however. In order to get a great view, often you need to climb to new heights. Unfortunately, this makes me pretty uncomfortable. Traveling has forced me to climb towers, take elevators, and look over edges that I otherwise wouldn’t. And each time I do, I am happy and proud that I did - that I faced my fear, and once more didn’t let it keep me from climbing higher.
There are two times that really stick out to me where I was in almost panic from my fear. The first one was in Switzerland, with my brother, going to the top of the Schilthorn. Even the first gondola ride, up maybe a couple of hundred meters, made me sweat, but by the time it came to make the final climb, I felt like I was having an otherworldly experience. It was as if nothing worked properly - I couldn’t physically bring myself to look anywhere but down, and I panicked. Thankfully, I had my brother next to me, who kind of touched my shoulder, and helped me to breathe and calm down. I pushed through it, got off at the top, and went straight to the gift shop. It would take me another 30 minutes to adjust to the height and view, walking gingerly, gripping the guard rails as if my life depended on it, but all along knowing my brother was close. These would be, and still are, some of my favorite pictures – not just because I overcame my fear, but because my brother was with me, the scenery was beautiful, and I proved to myself that I could do it.
The other time was most recently in Dubai atop the Burj Khalifa. There, the elevator races you to the top, and when you get up there, you look down… look down some more… and then look down some more… before you see the bottom. Strangely I did ok with being outside, but when it came to the inside, and walking around the bends, I couldn’t handle it. The staff at one point told me I had to turn around and walk back to get to the next floor up, and I couldn’t. Not even along the wall, not even looking to the inside. My hands were sweating, and my heart was racing. So, I then continued along my previous path, found the stairs up, and tried heading up. But, about half way up, I stopped. I couldn’t seem to get myself to go higher. I turned back around to go back down, but I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. So, I pushed onwards, holding close to the inside, and trying to make it to the top. I finally did, after much self-convincing, and I got to take my pictures, again so grateful that I did.
These are just two times where I have had to push past my fears, for something that I truly love. And each time I do, I panic, recover, and then am grateful I did. And these pictures always mean so much more to me.