May 6, 2009

Milan Kundera and Vertigo

Anyone whose goal is "something higher" must expect some day to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of Falling? Then why do we feel it even when the observation tower comes equipped with a sturdy handrail? No, vertigo is something other than the fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.
~The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Years ago, I climbed the Squamish Chief with a few friends. Upon its summit, some of us crawled to the edge of the 900 foot bluffs. We rested our chins on our hands and peered down the cold slate rock to witness mist, a winding highway with sluggish vehicles, the impeccable dots of century-old trees. I remember the advice of one of the more seasoned hikers, to keep our chins on our hands, not to stand up and face the openness below. Why? Because we would want to jump. Like lemurs. Like zealots. Like lovers. So we inched backwards, on hands and knees, our eyes aching to see over and below one last time, our minds fighting the urge to hurl our bodies loose.

1 comment:

Sam said...

That's the part of ULB that sticks with Josh, too. And nice writing.