Man, that’s a mighty long way down. Dramatic scenes come with a price


I did a painting the other day that I am quite pleased with (‘quite pleased with’ coming from me and directed at something I did is huge praise indeed). Oh, and disregard the bit of wood at the bottom. It’s not part of the painting but part of the easel.

The painting is a scene from the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Ireland. It is taken from a photo I took in April of 1981 as I stood at the edge of a stunning bit of land-meets-the-sea geography.

I loved the west coast of Ireland and if you haven’t been there, go, that is an order. There is more scenery packed into a few square miles than you might imagine – and all of it is good – and the Guinness is great (I still liked to tipple back in 1981; I probably would like to tipple now, which is why I don’t) and Irish lasses are the prettiest in the world with that damn auburn hair, rosy cheeks, and enticing upper torsi.

I posted the painting on Facebook but if you haven’t seen it there, you can now see it here.                

Anyway, we had stopped at the Cliffs as an aspect of a coach tour that my former wife (heedless of my protestations of hatred for anything bus-like) had gone ahead and booked for us during the time we were living in England.

Fortunately for me I fell in with a roistering Miami cabbie named Christy Murphy and he and I had been sharing pleasingly of the contents of his bottle of Jack Daniels that morning so I was feeling ‘smooth’, shall I suggest?

So, whilst there we stood at the edge of those awe-inspiring huge sea-cliffs as the gulls and terns swooped below us and the cold North Atlantic leading all the way to Newfoundland disappeared in the haze in the distance. I recall being quite enraptured by it all.

Yet in retrospect, one particular aspect of the Cliffs came to mind. Those promontories were mighty precipitous. And it was a long way down to the rocks of the foreshore below. Kind of a suicide Mecca, no doubt. Yet, I do not recall feeling bothered by it.

Was it the comforting effects of the bourbon, or was I indeed different about my acrophobia back then? Had it not kicked in with full force yet? I am left wondering about that.

As I’ve mentioned here before I have a preternatural phobia about heights (not so much about the height per se but the hitting of the bottom after I fall which I invariably fear I will do when confronted by a high place). I mean, I even have a hard time looking at photos of elevated places like those classics of high steel workers sitting on suspended girders a million feet above the streets of New York.

Wendy has often said she’d like to visit the Grand Canyon. I’ve told her I’ll wait in the car while she has a look.

But, my point is, I ‘did’ the Irish cliffs. When I was young I used to do odd jobs like cleaning the gutters of two-floor houses of neighbors. No problem. Even as recently as when I first visited Kauai back in the late 1980s I reveled in a trip up to Waimea Canyon. Yet, the last time I went there a few years ago with Wendy I realized I didn’t want to do that again.

Where did my acrophobia come from? I have no idea. Fear of mortality at a certain age? Perhaps. Like most phobias, it originates somewhere and there is no point in trying to apply logic to it. I know they carry out therapies for phobias, but, unlike say fear of flying, it’s not really crippling so I’ve learned to live with it.

Meanwhile, enjoy my view of the cliffs. I certainly did when I went there. Dunno if I could do it now, however.



12 responses to “Man, that’s a mighty long way down. Dramatic scenes come with a price

  1. I am a full-blown arachnophobe. It got better for a while after my dad died, but then it snuck back in, slowly. Sometimes, if the spider is fake enough ~ blaze orange or purple or something like that ~ I can bare it. Otherwise, full blown arachnophobia. What makes it interesting, though, is there was a time I was not. I enjoyed studying them; could watch them in horror movies without flinching; could care less if one was on a wall. After about 12, though… *shudder*

    Who knows where phobias come from. Like you, I’m okay with mine. But if it’s okay with you, I’ll look over your cliffs and you can kill my spiders.

    • I, on the other hands, am not bothered at all by spiders. When they come in the house I just shoo them outside. Heights, as I point out, are very much another matter. They scare me so much I practically need Depends. But, as for you with spiders, I didn’t have the angst when I was young.

  2. Tell Wendy I’ll join her for the Grand Canyon. It’s truly awesome and I’ve been itching to go back since they opened that glass bottomed bridgey-loopy thing.

  3. You are honestly the first person I’ve ever heard say you’d wait in the car while Wendy had a look…I’m so sorry you have this particular phobia…Do you know when it developed?

    • I was exaggerating a little, but not entirely. I cannot, however, stand close to the edge. The first time I remember it happening was when I went to Niagara Falls in my late 20s. Looking over the precipice made me very uneasy.

  4. I love standing on the edge overlooking a canyon, or being at the top of a big building, or mountain looking down. It just makes me feel powerful. If I am with someone who is afraid, that knowledge just inspires me to balance precariously on the edge wobbling on one foot. I know it is terribly mean, but it makes me laugh. Perhaps it stems from my childhood when I was not allowed to swing things in case I should poke someone’s eye out, or stand too close to the edge. I guess it just made me want to live life on the edge, and I am much happier for it.

  5. I daren’t go to the cliff edge ’cause I get this almost irresistible urge to throw myself off!

  6. I’m uncomfortable with heights too (Jazz is obviously the adopted child in our family), but I still force myself to do stuff like go up the Empire State Building or the Eiffel Tower. I actually laid down on the glass floor of the CN Tower – shaking and sweating, but I did it! Standing on the edge of a cliff is much worse though – so we are NOT going to the top of the Cliffs of Moher this summer, regardless of how majestic they are. I’ll stay at ground level, thank you, perhaps sitting in a pub sipping some Bailey’s.

    • I always suspected that about Jazz. Your pub alternative for the cliffs is a good one. Get PG to go and take pictures. That’s what I do with WEndy. The first time I noticed it was in Seattle a few years ago. I stood at the base and looked up and up and up at the Space Needle and immediately concluded that I didn’t want to be there.

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