Moments later I was breathing deeply to suppress my anxiety as I was strapped into a climbing harness and roped to the tower by the belaying team. My head swam with thoughts, my gut with emotion. I had just blurted out that I wanted to try a blindfold tower climb. I was amazed the words came out at all! But, I had cross the Rubicon on this one, so I walked to the nearest timber and, with guidance, I slipped the blindfold over my eyes and reached out to feel for my first handhold.
My focus remained on moving up, working to discover my next gripping point with my right hand, and launching my body upward with my left leg. Any sense of anxiety evaporated as my concentration increased, and I alternated between pulling myself up with my hands while using my legs to push, and feeling for hand holds further along the timber. I lost count of my maneuvers and put my effort and energy into scaling my way up. My breathing was steady but slightly labored, and – most of all – I noticed a remarkable absence of fear.
A few minutes later I paused to catch my breath. “How’s it going?” I heard a voice below me say. It was good to know my climbing team was keenly focused on my well-being. “Good,” I said. “I think I’d like to take a look around.”
Surprised, again, by my unexpected boldness, I used a hand to lift the blindfold so I could see. I was struck by my continuing absence of anxiety or fear. In fact, I marveled that the solution to my dread lay in simply doing something completely counter-intuitive.
Have I overcome my fear of heights? To a significant degree. More importantly, I learned there is more than one way to handle fear, and a means to manage it may be found by considering outrageous-sounding, out-of-the-box solutions.