There is a deep and abiding love in some people for enclosed spaces. The spectrum of response to enclosed spaces ranges from a wish to envelop oneself within the Earth to the antithesis of that love, claustrophobia. I love caves. Actually, I love cellars, passages, sinkholes, tunnels, hollows, caverns, holes, wells, and any other type of enclosed space. I suppose this is, in part, a genetic predisposition. My father has the same love of being enclosed. He possesses this fascination to the point that my parents' house is one-third underground. Surrounding the subterranean portion of the house is a drainage tunnel that keeps the moisture from seeping into the living area. The water seeping from the wall drains then into a root cellar almost thirty feet underground, where it is then pumped, as necessary, to the surface.
The startlingly different responses of different individuals to this same stimulus is a testament to the diversity of the human race. Some people, if forced into a cavern or tunnel, would gibber in terror at their position. It is not always pure claustrophobia which causes this reaction. A fear of spiders, bats, snakes, falling, darkness, or simply the unknown may drive people out into the sunlight. But I just want to climb deeper, yet a swim in a deep lake or the open ocean would terrify me..
I am drawn to the portions of computer games which depict dungeon crawls or underground exploration. The bowels of a Borg ship are more fascinating to me than a battle in open space. The endless swamps of Diablo II made me crave the sight of stairs leading down into a dungeon. The most memorable rushes of Dungeon Siege were finding hidden passages leading further still into the ground. There is a drive to see what is around the next bend - through the next opening - at the end of the next passage. I have crawled under a castle in Frankfurt, toured through numerous caves on the tourist paths, scaled down a narrow chasm with my feet on one wall and back on the other to the distant floor. I have hiked through lava tubes in Hawaii and climbed miles up a narrow cliff-wall path in New Mexico just to get to a small cave without guides to tell you where you can't go. I have a nearly irresistible urge to find some excuse to dig a well, cellar, or tornado shelter just so I can have an underground passage in my back yard.
What drives these urges? What causes some people to love what others fear? The explanations of psychology pointing to the "primitive brain" or the suggestion of childhood trauma don't seem to have the strength to answer this question. The predilections of individuals are too different, the spectrum too wide, the idea of trauma causing love too unwieldy. The same love can arise from different parts of the experience. My love may be based on exploration, while others like darkness, cool dampness, or the aural qualities of the enclosed space. Although it can be labeled, the actual emotion is too complex to describe. Attempting to quantify the reason behind the attraction becomes endless. What can I do but simply pursue the urge, seeking gratification rather than enlightenment. Further, deeper, faster! Downward I go...