Up until I was ten I jumped off the high diving board with abandon. The sizzling concrete framing our local outdoor swimming pool didn’t have a chance to burn my feet before I’d scampered back up the ladder to dive off again.
One day, in a mistimed fit of empathy, I wondered what it would be like to be scared of heights.
I let my mind convince my carefree self that there was something to fear in curling my toes over the edge of the diving board. Suddenly, bounce-bounce-bounce-SPRINGing into the air to spiral into the water with graceless abandon became ... terrifying.
In that split second I pictured myself slipping in the bounce before the jump. I imagined hitting the water in a belly flop rather than a pin drop. I amplified the free-fall until my heart was in my mouth.
On cue, my stomach churned. My palms got sweaty and I backed away from the edge, ignoring the jeers of those who’d climbed up the ladder behind me.
I wish I’d just jumped. That I looked my manufactured fear in the face, flipped it the bird, and just jumped.