I had never been so frozen with anxiety before in my life. All I could do is stare ahead trying to get the courage to move forward. I was rehearsing over and over what to do, but it didn’t seem to help.
I was 13 and I was trying to call the girl I wanted to like me. She hopefully would be the first, if I could muster the courage. I so lacked confidence that things would go smoothly. What would I do if she didn’t answer? What would I do if she did answer? How would I explain why I called? What if she didn’t want to talk to me? What would I call about?
I was so confused. Finally, in a moment rash boldness, I picked up the phone and dialed her number. As the phone rang, my pounding heart threatened to render me deaf to her voice or whoever picked up the phone. I slammed the phone down. I had to be able to hear.
Now I had to wait for at least 10 minutes so no one would think I had just rung and hung up. When I tried again, I noticed that I was able to breathe as the phone rang again. When the phone was answered, I don’t recall what was said. But I do remember that it went much better than I thought it would, mostly thanks to Natalie. After I hung up, I stopped and took stock of what had happen. After all I knew this was a milestone.
I had almost driven myself crazy for no reason. I made vow to never again think too much before I tired to do something I wanted to do. Thinking too much only allows anxiety to build. “Trust yourself and just do it”, I told myself.
Fast forward 53 years. I am in Queenstown New Zealand on the shores of Lake Wakatipu standing on a bungee platform.
I am being given instructions and being outfitted with a harness. The instructions have to do with what I should do to be hauled back up after I stop bouncing up and down. And the anxiety is starting to build, my heart is pounding, my breathing is shallow and labored, and I started to think how I was going to leap off.
I flashed back to my call to Natalie. I smiled at the photographer. Then I took 2 steps and jumped.