Fright or flight?
The strangeness of fear (or lack thereof)
December 11, 2016, OTTAWA — Fear — pure, irrational fear — is the damnedest thing.
I'm talking about the fears that don't make sense, or at least, that don't make sense when taken out of context. Fear of spiders that aren't poisonous, of rodents nott dangerous, of heights well-barricaded.
This last — heights — is my especial irrational bugaboo. Standing on a chair to reach a high shelf makes me uneasy. Getting onto the counter to change a light-bulb makes me nervous verging on frightened.
Hell, one of my earliest childhood memories comes from a terror near paralysis I experienced when I had to ride a down escalator at the old Eaton's in Montreal. In fact, it's only in the past five — maybe 10 — years, that I've learned to travel the moving staircases in more or less complete serenity.
But put me in an elevator or on an aeroplane, no matter that the latter, especially, is objectively much more dangerous than riding an escalator, and I feel no fear whatsoever.
At least, that's always been my experience on commercial airplanes. But I've wondered, ever since I first flew as a passenger in a Dash-8, how I would react were I to ride in the cockpit of a small aircraft, without the illusion of safety even a small passenger liner provides.
Would my fear of heights reassert itself in such a flimsy platform?
Last month, I finally found out whether I have any fear of flying.