When I was nine, I climbed up to the high diving board at Jones Beach for the first time. My initial enthusiasm was betrayed by a mounting fear the farther I progressed up the ladder. There were at least ten children behind me occupying their own rungs, impatiently waiting for their chance at flight. Turning back was not an option, so I flung myself off the board. The fall was so fierce, so sharp, that I was buried in the water. I kept sinking lower and lower, the air busting in my chest and the terror overtaking me. I was frightened that I would never come up, that there was no bottom to this pool. I 'sank like a hopeless swimmer'. But finally, finally, my big toe skimmed the jagged concrete floor of the pool. I flexed my foot and pushed off against the bottom, propelling myself upward, back to air and sun and life.