Student: Master, we have to climb a high rope in gym class and I am
afraid of heights.
Shaolin Master: If you make an honest effort and fail, you can try again with experience and the rope will only seem half as high. If you fail to try, the rope will forever be twice as high as it really
Even though I was not too afraid of heights, I was too weak to climb the ropes2 in grammar
school. My elite classmates however, were able to climb the rope3 anchored
within the ceiling, about 20 feet high. Some would climb all the
way to the top and when their hands finally touched the ceiling, the rest of the class cheered. Soon after, some of the elite would look down and often freeze in a panic attack. The gym teacher would try to coax them downward
with soft words of encouragement which only seemed to make them cry. The instructor would then call a custodian to
climb up a ladder and carry them down in his or her arms.
Some argue that acrophobia, the irrational fear of heights, is either different or the same
as the fear of falling, though it seems to be the former. Human nature usually causes people to be cautious while standing close to the edge of a high cliff when it appears that the control of their own safety is in their own hands. Thus, as in Case 2 people can be afraid, but not because of height. When sightseeing atop a tall building, the presence of guard rails ensures them of the rarity of an accidental fall for an anxiety-free time.4 However in Case 1, atop a skyscraper, if the student is acrophobic as he says, he may have anxiety due to building height, even with the presence of guard rails. Maybe he should listen to his Shaolin Master.
1The Action Principles: 114. Afraid of Heights, The American Success Institute, Natick, Massachusetts, http://www.success.org/ShaolinMaster/Dialogues/114.html
2According to USA Weekend Online: Classroom, rope climbing is now OUT
and rock climbing is IN for elementary school students. For some reason, rock climbing seems a little more
dangerous and expensive. http://www.usaweekend.com/98_issues/981108/981108education.html
3"No-one can climb the rope in gym class. It's there to humiliate people."
from Sabrina, The Teenage Witch Sheldon Bull,
4Acrophobia: Intense Dread of Being at a Great Height,