Saturday, April 15, 2006

Fear of Falling

Myself at The Grand Canyon, July 1998 (Photo by Jill Weiner)

I had always wanted to see the Grand Canyon and now... there it was. It was exactly as I had imagined it (aided, of course, by a myriad of photos and films). Of course, there can never be a substitute to actually seeing being somewhere. The scale of it was tremendous. It was simply the biggest, most spectacular, most beautiful bowl in the world. The colors were muted but magnificent. What really raised the little hairs on the back of my neck, however, was not the size or sheer beauty of the place -- but its history. There, laid bare before my eyes, was more than a billion years of geological history, going back to a time long before man, ape or monkey had walked the planet. Now, thousands of years after our arrival on this continent it was still there, barely acknowledging our existence. For me, being there, was a profoundly spiritual experience. The gods being time, space and nature.

This most spiritual experience of mine was brought back crashing down to earth by a simple human frailty: my fear of falling. It is the same fear I feel when standing near the edge of a subway platform. It is the same fear I felt driving down California's Highway 1, hugging its gorgeous cliff walls all the way down. It is the same fear I feel standing at the edge of any cliff, for that matter.

To get this photo I had to make a very short hop from the solid rim of the Grand Canyon (a rim physically connected to continental North America, of course) to a tiny little rock island seemingly floating above the canyon. It was not physically connected to the rim. Instead, its connection to the earth was more than a hundred feet below. To fall into the cravas or to shoot beyond the rock island during a short hop, would be to fall into oblivion. To faint or trip while there would result in the same.

Of course another way to look at it was that it was only a short hop from here to there. Can you see the fear gripping my body as it tensely poses for this photo? Half my mind was focused on posing, the other half on my fear of falling. A most profound and spiritual moment for me confronted by a simple human frailty of mine.

I will not die an unlived life,
I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire;
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible.
To loosen my heart until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise…
I choose to risk my significance;
To Live.
So that which came to me as seed,
goes to the next as blossom.
And that which came to me as a blossom,
goes on as fruit.

By Dawna Markova

No comments: