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Starlit London and The Fear/Thrill of Flying…

How does a person go from being so terrified of flying that she hardly steps onboard an airplane without having her arm seriously twisted to enjoying the flight so much that she doesn’t want it to end?

I could tell you, but I’m not sure you’ll like it.

Last May I flew to Scarborough ... Well, actually I flew to Manchester and took the train to Scarborough but that’s not the point. When I flew to England in May I realized in the very early morning of my flight that I had forgotten to get in touch with my doctor to get the beta blockers that made air travel possible for me before. By then I already knew that I had left some of my fear behind me. I traveled to the States in 2018 without major panic, though I did take the beta blockers both ways just in case and was somewhat edgy some of the way. Afraid that I’d get afraid, and you don’t want to aggravate the fear-demon. It is bound to sink you, get you deep diving.

As I realized the issue with the beta blockers I shrugged my shoulders and figured I’d be fine on my flight to Manchester. And I was. There was some turbulence on the way and while I didn’t love it, I got through it without the demon of fear riding me too badly.

Suddenly, flying was doable, not fun, but doable.

Then - yesterday - I flew to Heathrow, London to attend the FantasyCon this weekend. It was a late flight, we took off in the dark and flew over the coast of Europe in the dark.

It was truly magical. The city lights create such fairy landscape on the dark canvas that it makes the stars look like amateurs. A series of glimmering waterfalls and multi dimensions, as if all the lights were suspended in the air and no ground below at all, creating a new world of stars below as above.

I didn’t want it to end.

The jewel in the crown was the low flight over London. The starlit ground so peaceful from the air, so tranquil and yet deep in your soul you know that in each spot of light there are several souls buzzing, busying, brooding, bleeding, burrowing... breathing, grieving.

And even through the dark clouds, that always seem to shake your existence on the way down, I felt nothing but exhiliration, thrill even. I really didn’t want it to end. The flight, only an hour and thirty minutes, was too short!

I don’t have a magic formula on how to get from the constant, debilitating fear, to this sense of thrill but as I was descending over London it occurred to me that it had to do with the will to really live.

Before, when I was so fearful, I lived a different life. The sense of having something big to lose was much bigger. The sense that I was actually risking something precious, and for what? A few days somewhere else on the planet? Was it really worth it?

And yet now the idea of risk doesn’t exist, when before it was all consuming? Nothing has changed drastically about air travel. It’s the safest way to travel, but I knew that back when I was fearful too.

So, what has changed?

After the covid isolation? My best friend dying? And generally being stuck in life for a long time?

The will to live is suddenly greater than any idea of risk that once consumed me.

So, the change you need to beat the fear?

It comes from the inside. At least it did for me. It comes from changes in life that seemed so terrifying before, but now seem insignificant and small. Joyful even. Suddenly, the need for adventures is larger than the need for status quo.

And God knows I’m tired of the status quo.

So, give me some turbulence, give me fairy lights on dark canvas that out sparkle the stars, give me new places, more people. Give me adventure.

And when the fear demon comes back? When life has settled again and doesn’t seem as edgy? And the turbulence shakes you so badly that the fear demon makes a nest in your heart again? It may happen.

And I won’t tell you that you can defy your fear, because the fear is real no matter the statistics. It burrows so deep in your soul that it becomes all consuming, basically chaining you to something that will never bring you joy.

Defy it? Sure. Try. Do what you can to defy it, forgive yourself for succumbing to it and remember that hard times sometimes bring you a cure that you never knew you needed.


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