A few months ago, I took a short course called Writing Your Life Story at the University of North Florida OLLI (Oshner Lifelong Learning Institute) program. Our wonderful teacher gave us an assignment (one of several) to write a brief story about the topic "What no one knows about me". This is my story.
I Did It!
I have gloried in the view of the Grand Canyon, awed by the vista spread before and below me. All from the edge of the lookout—standing six feet back from the railing and holding my husband’s hand for support!
I have looked out over New York City from the top of the Empire State Building, the tops of skyscrapers below me --- tense, hardly breathing, grasping the edge, not daring to look down!
I have climbed mountains in the Smoky Mountains, not once, but several times, as a camp counselor with young girls in my charge. We would sit aloft on a rocky ledge with the green valley spread far below us, resting from our climb. But this was when I was a college student many years ago. I still didn’t look straight down.
Today, I can’t take a down escalator. Those moving platforms plunging down paralyze me. I can’t make my foot take that first step.
I live in a one floor home. I don’t like stairs either. Only recently, I’ve learned to drive over the Matthews Bridge---in the center lane, concentrating on the car in front of me, not looking to the side where there’s only sky and the river far, far below.
Everyone knows Jan is afraid of heights. Balconies, even low ones, don’t attract me. I can’t imagine living in a skyscraper apartment. I don’t do roller coasters!!
Despite growing up in Florida, I am essentially a non-swimmer. As young girl we did not have easy access to a pool or swimmable lake. Neither of my parents could swim. I did take a couple of swimming classes in my childhood, but the best I can do is an awkward splash across a pool. I do much better floating with ny noodle.
But once, only once, I did something despite my visceral fear of high places and my inability to swim. Even my husband didn’t remember me telling him about it.
In my freshman year of college at Emory University, a course called Survival Swimming was a graduation requirement. We were all tested for ability at the start of the course. The class ranged from a girl who was an Olympic swimmer in 1960 to, you guessed it, ME. The Olympian ended up being the coach’s assistant. We non-swimmer’s finally got to where we could get across the pool in one try and tread water for at least 30 minutes. Then came the course final.
I mentioned that this was a required subject. One could not pass the course without completing the final test. One could not graduate without passing the course! I did want to graduate!
I did it!!!! I jumped, fully dressed, from the High Board. I think regulation height is 10 meters, 30 feet. To me it seemed more like 300, BUT I DID IT! Height fearing, non-swimmer me! I overcame my fear and passed the course.