How do they know this plane isn’t too old to fly? It’s one of my biggest questions- one I can’t stop from entering my mind during each and every flight I embark on. I’m sure there is a system put in place by the smart folks at each airline, but being unaware of it is in this case not so blissful.
My fear of flying has, you could say, skyrocketed as of late. As a kid I was fearless – so thrilled at the idea of visiting a new place that I didn’t think twice about how I was getting there. But as of late, my fear of flying has become a crippling burden to the point that I’ve almost missed out on some incredible life experiences because my body decided to rebel against my mind. In this game of mental war, I’m not a winner, but rather a bedraggled soldier limping along day by day.
It doesn’t matter how calm I feel in the airport before takeoff. As soon as the initial taxi begins, all calmness goes out the window. My brain churns out scenario after scenario of crashes, emergencies, etc, until I can barely breathe and my sweat chills me to the bone. On more than one occasion I’ve cried, hoping those around me don’t notice as I fall to pieces in close proximity, glancing out of the side of my eyes to see if they too noticed a concerning change in the buzz of our flight (they don’t).
So what does it mean? Why is it that every time I go wheels up, my rationality goes out the window? And why does it keep getting worse as I fly more frequently, instead of better?
I chalk some of it up to external anxiety, to the complexities of my life that use the vulnerability of travel to shove their way into my subconscious, urging me to lose practicality and preying upon my lack of control. Some of it comes from recent world events, tragedies that fill my mind with sorrow and unfair fear of the world, regardless of how uncommon these events may be. But I have an inkling that most of it comes from a new realization that as I age, as I gather more meaning in my life and settle into a complex existence, I feel like I have more to lose. Sure, I’ve always thought my life was worth living, but right now, it feels like I’m reaching the deepest, most challenging, yet also most rewarding stage of life. I’m coming into my own, and that’s both terrifying and exciting all at once. Losing control of all of that as we ascend into clouds is the last thing I want, and I’m starting to recognize that.
I can guess that flying won’t ever be easy for me again, but I know it’s worth it. Every new adventure is an opportunity to lose myself in a new world, to let go of the fears and inconsistencies that have accumulated in daily life, and I won’t let a fear of being thousands of feet in the air stop me from that. At the very least, it’s comforting to know that my fear is based on the fact that I have so much to lose.