My daughters and I are leaving for Scotland in nine days. I’m thrilled. I’m excited. I’m terrified! Dreams of falling have begun.
In the midst of travel planning, it’s not unusual for me to have dreams of falling. I’m not really afraid of heights. I can climb a ladder or a cliff (and back down) with the best of them, but there is something about traveling with my family–with my children in particular–that jump-starts in me a deep maternal fear of falling off the face of the earth.
As I closed my eyes last night, I held in my mind a beautiful vision of deep green forests and panoramic Scottish vistas. Just as I was about to drift off to sleep, the terrain changed and I found myself at the edge of a cliff, about to take a step into thin air. I could feel my daughters behind me, talking, laughing, not paying attention. My eyes flew open and I sat straight up in bed as every photo I’ve ever seen of the craggy cliffs of the Scottish Highlands flashed before me. We have to pay attention, I thought to myself. We have to watch our footing and keep an eye on each other. I slept fitfully the rest of the night, tip-toeing around the fear that hovers over me.
Several years ago, I traveled to the Grand Canyon. It’s a thrilling site and for a moment, I wished that my kids were with me to see it. It was December, the rocks around the gorge were shiny and slick with ice, and little kids skittered and scampered right up to the edge, hung over the wide-spaced bars or crawled under to get a better look. I had to go sit in the car to catch my breath. It wasn’t the height that bothered me. It wasn’t even a fear of falling–not me falling, anyway. It was the kids dancing so precariously close to the edge and their parents blithely watching that made my stomach knot and my head ache. I vowed then and there to never, ever allow my children or my grandchildren to go to the Grand Canyon.
Selfish? Yes. Crazy? Probably. But I could see the headline in my mind: Entire Family Wiped Out in Grand Canyon Fall. I could see it: a grandchild ventures too close to the edge and slips. My daughter reaches for the child, her sister reaches for her, I lunge for them both and we topple over the edge with the rest of the family right behind us, arms outstretched, fingers grasping. Yet, despite my seemingly irrational fear, I’m taking my daughters to Scotland for a ten day romp through the Highlands. Go figure!
Maybe it’s just a cave dweller’s natural trepidation about leaving the comforts of home. Maybe my fears are the result of millions of years of maternal instinct forcing its way to the surface from that deep-seated paleo mind. Whatever, to quote my sixteen-year-old granddaughter. We’re going to be careful; we’re going to have the adventure of a lifetime; we’re going to have a blast! And if we fall, it will be the coolest fall of all: falling in love with Scotland.
Just for Fun!
An outdoor, see-through comfy cave. I want one!