I suppose some might find it a right rib-tickler that despite being very nearly six and a half feet tall and living in an area with a lot of vertical geography of which I like to get up on top of as to see my tiny world from on high, I kind of have a problem with heights. There are probably those, critics, who would say-baselessly!-that this makes sense, for I am full of contradiction. I take it as something of an annoyance, like seasonal allergies.
After all, I have deeper, darker, fears. Late at night, when the demons come for tea, we sometimes discuss them. At length.
Curiously, my worst times of vertigo occurred down below, in the greater metroplex, not the mountains. Once was a soccer game I attended with Jezebel and Belushi. The second was when I saw the Dalai Lama. Both instances involved nose-bleed seats and narrow walkways. Throngs of humanity pulsed around me like some mega-organism. Sometimes, when I think about those two incidents, I wonder if my subtle terror came from the great crowds of eking and scratching half-bald primates surrounding me and not the idea of what would happen if I lost my footing and fell.
I firmly believe my Kashmir is place where playing outside is a holy sacrament. Coming from someone who describes themselves as heretic, that might not mean much, but maybe it means everything. Perhaps it doesn't matter.
The rock walls around the ruins of the Mendota Mine, at the far west edge of town had been calling my name with a siren's sing-song voice. So, I clipped on my chalk bag and away I went. I never climb much higher than twenty feet off the ground. Miguel Loco once warned me to never climb up something I cannot climb back down. Sound advice.
Although, at one point or another, I inevitability look down and everything drops away. I freeze. Only for a heartbeat, but, time being the abstract that it is, that is a very long heartbeat. It is said fear profits no man, and panic, even at ten or twenty feet off the ground could be disastrous. With a deep breath, I look up once more.
Before I learned any of the Buddhist mantras, this was my jam;
"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn my inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain..."
Hearken, and be made glad, congregation, at the good news; the gospel of Frank Herbert...
Of course I made it to the top. I made it back down too, obviously, having had a grand time playing about on the rocks. This little muse-brought to you by the First Syllable, Om-would not have happened otherwise.
Around my neck, one of my fetishes is a fossilized shark's tooth. It was found in the deserts of Morocco, and is said to be around twenty million years old. I imagine critics snickering at that one.
Of course you do. It's ancient and from Morocco. Ain't that just your funny little way?
Funny or not, I've mentioned being frightened of sharks, but I also respect them. My shark's tooth is a talisman and a reminder. It tells me there are things in this world, which scare me, but that it would be folly to allow myself to be in the thrall of my fears. After all, I bear my jugular to no one; god, man, or mental state.