I’m an open book. So ask anyone, ask a stranger that I may have let skip me in line at the grocery store…I’ve got some serious anxiety. Ridiculous anxiety. I’ve been having pseudo-panic attacks for the last three weeks. Not the great end all be all, heart-racing-pass-out-take-the-door-knob-off-the-bathroom-door-with-your-face kind of panic attacks. Worse. They are stalker panic moments. Just tiny reminders, “I’m here, and I can take you out at any moment.” So I’ve been struggling, you could say. Which brings us up to speed to now, well, 2 days ago “now”.
Two shots of JAMO to board a plane? Flying used to be the most interesting to me. I loved take off and landing. turbulence was always an added bonus, like winning a $10 lottery ticket, I’m not going to run naked through the isles over it, but a little part inwardly cheers.
Where was the point where I ultimately lost control and flying became something to fear rather than look forward too? Was it when I lost my home, my relationship, my future, my plans, my yard, my “life”, my damn dog…to none other than a friend? (woah, let’s pump the brakes on that mine field) People seem to believe that’s where my fear started to take root in my life. I stopped wanting to be in the center of a crowd. I started sweating as I booked a flight, just thinking about staring down the length of the plane, terrified that I had no exit. (Good God I’m sweating now typing it!) I started taking inventory of exit opportunities everywhere I went. When I go to a musical, I panic if I somehow foolishly bought tickets in the middle of row, as opposed to within 3 seats from the aisle. (I recently saw an excellent comedian I had looked forward to seeing, and spent his entire show breathing deep and counting to ten, over and over and over). Nausea sneaks into the pit of my stomach if I end up pushed to the back of an elevator, sweaty business suits pushing in around me, surely exceeding the weight limits of cable tension. Fear crushes my lungs when I drive over bridges, (Most likely I’m holding my breath until safely back on land). When did it all change? When did I suddenly observe my mortality as something to be prepared for? Something to be ever ready to extend? And how did I lose this fiercely strong and wildly independent streak I had going for me?
I’ve taught and watched children on a ski hill. I’ve witnessed a 3-year-old bravely launch himself off a small jump, laughing and speeding along wildly. I’ve stared in amazement at the fearlessness of youth. Ah, to be young again. To believe blindly in your mind and body’s ability to heal itself.
Perhaps too many breaks. Too many falls. Too many confusing lessons of age have worn down my super hero cape into threadbare reality, possibly a bit further than reality into imagined nightmares.
There’s no logic to my fears. No true sense of danger. “You’re more likely to die in a car accident, than a plane crash”. True. And life’s tragic lessons and heartaches of loss have shown me that statement precisely, because here I still am, on 1 of 100 flights; living, breathing, panicking. But they’re not here. They haven’t gone on, proving the saying time and again. And the heart cracks and breaks at the loss. And in time it heals itself. Or it hides itself. I believe sometimes the heart is so broken, it hides its cracks from it’s owner. Until eventually, those cracks add up and it can no longer continue. It finally shuts down, sends out a white flag, and begs you to start making some repairs. Strangely, contrary to the words prior, I do not fear death. I do not welcome it either. But I do not fear it. My fear of flight, is not of the crash, it is of surviving the crash, only to be trapped inside with no way out. My fear of water is not of drowning, rather of being stuck, trapped, unable to reach the surface, pulled down by some unimaginable beast. My fear of crowds? Trapped. My fear of the dark? No way out. My fear of spiders? Ok, that’s just normal and if you think otherwise I’m not sure we will get along. They are creepy.
So what do we do with all this fear challenging all of our independence? Well, I jump out of planes. I dive to the deepest depths I’m certified for (140 ft by the way). I get on planes alone, (yes I had a little help). And right now, I’m going to close my laptop, and I’m going to go walk, yes walk, across the scariest bridge I’ve ever seen. Why? Because it’s going to liberate me? no. I’ll be just as terrified on the other side as I was in the middle. Because I’m stronger than a man-made object? No. I’m really not. No, I’m going to walk across this 1 mile suspension wonder of the world, because I can. I hope you are doing something today, not to better yourself, not to redeem yourself, but just for the pure and simple fact: you can. (That being said, please make what you do either beneficial or at the very least not hurtful to others). Some believe if you just keep doing what you are terrified to do, it won’t be so terrifying. I’m fairly certain that’s not the case with me, but I’m going to do it anyway.