Squirrels and the Fear of Heights
Have you ever just sat and watched squirrels scurry up and down trees, jumping from one branch and the top of one tree to another with seemingly no effort or fear of falling? I especially love it when two or more squirrels start chasing each other up and down and round and round and over and across almost faster than the eye can follow. Vertically, horizontally, it doesn’t really matter. They just go. It’s amazing how they simply fly from one branch to another, sometimes to and from branches that appear to be far too small and brittle to hold their weight, and they simply grab on and keep going. No fear of heights, no hesitancy, just pure unadulterated energy and grace.
Now this isn’t to say squirrels never fall, either to a lower branch or even to the ground. When I lived in northern Virginia just outside Washington DC, my neighbor in the townhouse next door had several bird feeders hanging from a tree in her back yard. No matter how far down from the branches she hung those bird feeders, the squirrels would always find a way to work their way down the skinny metal hangers, even hanging themselves upside down, to get to the bird seed. One day, as I watched one particular squirrel, he actually lost his hold and fell about five or six feet to the ground (not a small distance relative to his size). He sat there for a few seconds looking a bit dazed, as if thinking, “What the #(*! just happened?”, got up, and scurried right back up the tree trunk and out across the same branch to work his way back out to the feeder. Pure determination. Purely unphased. It was if nothing had happened, or that what had just happened didn’t matter. He was strictly in the moment, focused only on his goal.
Why is it that some people seem to have absolutely no fear of heights?
Consider those who scale the highest mountains in the world. How many have now reached the peak of Mt. Everest, not just once but multiple times? And then there are those rock climbers who scale up the sides of perfectly vertical cliffs with nothing to protect them from a deadly fall but a robe and a few hooks (and sometimes not even that). They seem to be totally without any fear of heights.
Consider the daring men — and women — who barnstormed their way across America in the early days of flight, or today’s fighter pilots who soar thousands of feet into the sky and perform almost impossible acrobatics with absolutely no hesitancy or apparent fear of heights.
Then there are those for whom just the thought of looking out a third story window or standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and beholding all the incredible grandeur that awaits them, brings on a state of panic simply because they fear falling off the edge into the abyss.
Consider not only physical height, but also ascension into prosperity and abundance.
Why is it that some people seem to be able to scale the heights of success with barely the blink of an eye, never looking down along the way, while others with similar intelligence and abilities barely make it off the ground? Is it the fear of falling into the abyss of failure that holds them back? Is it the fear that once they’ve scaled the mountain of success, they’ll lose sight of base camp from which they began their journey? Is it simply the lack of knowing what magnificence awaits them at the top? Is it a fear that they may end up there all alone with no one to share the joy, or that those remaining below will think them a fool or walk away out of jealousy?
Is it possible we could profit from spending more time simply watching the squirrels and learning from them the possibility that, as Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, we have absolutely nothing to fear but fear itself?
Here’s to living a life of fearless prosperity and abundance!