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The most common question asked of high divers is, “Are you afraid up there?” My response has always been that if you aren’t afraid, you’ll probably get hurt. High divers aren’t fearless. Rather, they are fear-enhanced, or enfeared. It is precisely this fear that heightens a diver’s awareness of his surroundings so he won’t make any mistakes. Divers often talk of having a “healthy respect for the ladder.” We respected the fact that at any time, the high diving gods could cause us to tumble out of control and come crashing down to Earth. Our respect was grounded in fear, and most diving injuries happened in fear’s absence. We knew that fear kept us safe. Indeed, we were more worried when we weren’t afraid than when we were. When leaping from ...

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