On swimming and a fear of heights

She begins her swim by walking straight into the water. She moves with determination and does not hesitate. Her walk ends when she is afloat. Her skin senses the dramatic differential in temperature. Her practice reduces peripheral blood flow quickly. Her skin cools, and the unpleasant sensation attenuates as the differential is reduced. She is comfortable within a short time.

I begin my swim by walking into the water to my ankles. I pause to get used to the unpleasant sensation of cold. I proceed to my knees and pause. The water stings as I walk to my waist. I stand high on my toes and retreat when waves splash onto my chest. Cycles of advance and retreat continue as I inch toward her. The cold bites with each step. Rather than allowing time for equilibration, my habit postpones it. The seemingly unending advance continues until I am standing with water just-below-the-chin. It is excruciating. By the time I begin my swim, hers is complete.

She argues that her habit makes more sense. Surely she is correct.

Neither of us managed more than two flights the first time so we made our way there again. The skies were clear and river mists remained. Up we climbed, hands to the rails. We stepped directly, and with determination. We did not hesitate. Within a few minutes we were there. We are glad to have conquered that which kept us from enjoying the view.


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