I blogged long ago about my fear of planes, but I think that fear is rooted in my basic fear of heights. Last year we went to the city with some European relatives and showed them the sights, which included--gulp--the John Hancock building. My dad, ever the adventurer, whisked us there in taxis and we waited in line to ascend to the very top. I tried various ways to get out of this without looking wimpy, but my children seemed interested enough, and I didn't want to deprive them of their adventure.
Instead, I rode the wobbling elevator with everyone else and emerged on to the skydeck, where the view was spectacular--and high. So high up in the air, where I believe a person like me is just not constitutionally meant to go. One can walk right up to a window and practically press oneself against the glass. You can see my family here enjoying the view; I am at the center of the floor, trying to avoid vertigo and snapping pictures to distract myself.
Is fear of heights hereditary? It could be; my mother has it, or something like it, although she has summoned up the gumption to board a plane many times. Apparently character is lessened with each generation. My eldest son was nervous about ascending, but adapted quickly enough. I'm not sure what causes my aversion to leaving the ground, but it's an instinctive response, and one that seems to increase as I age. I don't see the logic in it; it doesn't even seem rational to build a structure as high as the Hancock, nor does it seem sane to live in it. But that's just my mind talking me into my own fears.
I'm curious about phobias and how they manifest themselves in people. Do we all have them? If so, what distinguishes one from another? Why can someone hop on a plane but be afraid of spiders? Or drive on the expressway but be horrified (as one of my students is) of feet?
What's your phobia?