Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The White Stuff

Okay, I have a problem.

Keen readers (there must be one of you) may remember that I went skiing in March of this year, with my dad (his first time) and my brother (his third). It was my third time too, and, remembering two school ski trips to France, complete with hideous vegetarian food (a bowl of peas was a memorable highlight), overcrowded slopes, long transfers from the airport, poky accommodation, and of course, the French, I found us a fantastic resort in Sweden where the people were lovely, the food great--mostly because we cooked it ourselves, but the supermaket range was impressive--and the accommodation absolutely wonderful: we had our own freaking sauna.

The only thing wrong with the holiday was my inability to ski down anything steeper than the nursery slope.

But at least I finally figured out the problem. It's not exactly my total lack of coordination, although that doesn't help. It's my absolute phobia of heights. There's a word for it--acrophobia? Can't remember--but a phobia is what it is. I never realised quite how bad it was until I found myself dizzy and shaking in the exact centre of the floor, as far away from the windows as possible, on the 109th floor of the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas last year. There were inches and inches of thick safety glass all around me, all the safety features and restraints you could possibly imagine, and yet after five minutes nervously admiring the view from a safe distance, I was incapable of standing up. I think the words I'm looking for here are 'panic attack'.

So, is it any wonder that standing at the top of a steep, icy slope with a couple of strips of highly polished fibreglass strapped to my feet, I'm concentrating less on the view and more on the absolute certainty that I am going to die? I tried to explain this once to a friend, who kept telling me that I only thought I was going to fall. "No," I said, "I know I am." It's the hindbrain, the bit that's left over from the days when big things with teeth chased us to the tops of cliffs, where we most certainly were going to die. It's the appendix of my brain, the wisdom teeth, the spleen. The bit I don't need anymore, but have anyway.

So. Problem. Well, not really: I just don't go skiing any more. Right?

Er, no. Two reasons: one, my mother is determined to have a week to herself while we're off skiing; and two, my dad is paying for the whole trip. Oh, and three, actually (I can't count, okay?), if I don't go, my brother is on his own for skiing, because Dad'll be having lessons again. So. It looks like I'm going for other peoples' sakes, not my own. Gift horses and mouths, I know, and it's a free holiday (where I will sleep on a sofabed, get frostbitten lips and twist all the ligaments in my knees into helter-skelters, because there is no way my hindbrain will allow my legs to do anything other than a snowplough when the going gets tough).

So, how do you switch off the hindbrain? How do you disconnect the bit that makes no sense, and hook up to the bit that ought to be in charge? All those of you out there who are scared of heights, or open spaces, or closed spaces, or dark places, or flying, or any of the other crap there's no rational reason for, speak up.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
5,615 / 12,000

(Yes, it's the same as before. I've been spending all my time reading rotten ski brochures)

1 comment:

  1. Well, if you feel that way, maybe the US east coast wouldn't be so bad for you afterall!

    As for the hindbrain thing - maybe I can answer after I stop freaking about the itty-bitty spider in my bathroom this morning that I'm sure is poisonous and going to kill me.