“How long is it going to last?”, I ask as I cut my fingernails in to the sweet unaffected stewardess’ soft hand. “We will be ok”, she said. “This crew has been flying for 30 years”. Yet the violent thrusting of the plane being tossed like a cotton flower in a frenzied fall storm made me feel like she was full of shit. “How is this normal?!!”, I scream in my mind. “Why is this happening?!”. I look around at the unfazed sleepy passengers and I’m floored that not one person is missing a beat. The man next to me lapping up his time reading the New Yorker magazine uninterrupted by the buzzing of his cell phone emails, the woman, curled like a cat, letting the violent motion rock her to sleep, like a newborn baby, the stewards, clanging the first class glasses, unhinged, as the rock and roll party dances over the waves of cloud air . I’ve never been a great flyer. Mainly because of incidents that have made post traumatic grooves in my brain. Like the time the tsunami hit and I was in a 747 and aborted the takeoff 2 minutes before, or the time three out of four engines blew out over the ocean immigrating to Australia, aged 4, (great way to make an impression on a ripe malleable brain), or the final nail in the coffin, landing in an abandoned military strip in Nova Scotia when we lost all electrical power over the Atlantic and the words “get ready for an emergency landing”, came over the intercom. So yeah, not a great flyer. Now I think it’s so engrained in me to be afraid that my body goes into auto pilot. Hyperventilation in short spurts, over and over and over until we land. When I land a a huge wave of euphoria washes over me as I feel like I’ve narrowly missed the grim reapers tight claws. So what is it about 180,000 pounds of metal hurtling at 530 miles per hour through the thin air of the aqua blue sky that scares me? Hmmm as much as I think it’s JUST THAT, it’s more than the confusion of simple aerodynamics that spins me into a whirl. It’s control, my friend. The big bad wolf that prays on our reactive minds. We fear lack of control so greatly that it sends us over the edge. For me, NOT flying the plane (God who am I kidding- CONTROL FREAK!) makes me feel like I have no say in my safety,and ultimately my life. The thing about control is it’s a colossal myth. We are never in control. Ever. Don’t believe me?
You go to work and you drive and you think you are safe because you are driving. How do you know there won’t be a drunk driver that heads straight for your car? You don’t.
You get ready for a massive job and studied your heart out. But the night before you get the flu and miss it and lose out on the interview.
You see, if we only understood that life is fluid, unhinged, unpredictable, that we can prepare as much as we can but that the rest of it is up to a higher “something”, that governs the chaos, maybe, we can lose the suffocating grip on control and start to enjoy the ride. Because my friend, it’s not up to you anyway. It never was.