new york construction 1950s

I had a bad dream last night. The dream involved me being stuck at the top of a skyscraper from which I couldn’t get off. This nightmare was feeding off my long held fear of heights.

I’m not sure from where this phobia originates. I don’t mind sitting by the window on an aircraft and looking out as the plane takes off, watching the ground disappear beneath me. But it’s a quite different story when it comes to buildings.

I couldn’t work in a high-rise building. Pre- 9/11 I might have been able to. But not now. There’s something about the helplessness of being stuck at the top of a building, unable to get off, that plays to my worst fears. Being trapped. 9/11 was horrific in a million and one ways, but those forced to jump (estimated at over 200) from 110 storeys up is the thing that left me the most traumatized, especially having seen it played out live on TV.

I remember last year watching (and blogging about) the exceptionally good film documentary Man on Wire. It was really gripping. How that Frenchman could desire so strongly to cross over from one tower to the next, walking on just a tightrope, is beyond me. It made me quite sick to watch but I couldn’t help but remain fascinated.

Don’t look down

I blogged very recently about a fear of heights. The tallest building in the US – the Sears Tower in Chicago – has just installed a Skydeck which consists of solid glass boxes that extend outward from its 103rd floor. You can walk out onto them and look down through solid glass to ground level 1,353 feet below.

One word: terrifying.

And no, I could not step out onto them. The thought of being 103 floors above the ground with nothing more than glass beneath my feet is too much.