Fright of Flight
Ah, aeroplanes. We’ve all heard the statistics, that they’re one of the safest ways to travel, but somehow that doesn’t always reassure a brain that hasn’t changed significantly since the Pleistocene and considers being 10 kilometers up in the air about as safe as tickling a Sabre Toothed Tiger.
My first experience with air travel was when I flew to and from Japan as a 17/18 year old, and as I’ve detailed in a previous entry, that trip went about as smoothly as a square snowball rolled down the side of Mount Doom. I left so shell-shocked that for the next decade, I avoided flying like the plague.
Then, a few weeks ago, I was invited to speak at a conference on autism… in Tasmania. My plane ticket was paid for as part of the deal, and I really wanted to go, but at the same time, I was terrified. Painful memories of my experiences ten years prior resurfaced with a vengeance. But at the same time, I wanted to face and overcome this fear that I’d been running from for so long.
Buoyed by a flood of support and encouragement from my friends, family, and colleagues, I decided to grit my teeth and give it a go. In the days and hours leading my up to my flight, my anxiety writhed inside me like a live octopus. But then, when I finally got on the plane, and took off, it detached and fell away, left behind on the tarmac. For ten years I’d built up flying to be this horrific thing, but when I actually did it, the glass tiger my mind had fashioned shattered against the hard rock of reality.
And I’m so glad I didn’t let my fears stop me, because I really enjoyed Tasmania. Hobart is a beautiful city, the conference went well, and I met some really lovely people. But perhaps more importantly, I broke free of shackles that had bound me to the earth my entire adult life. From here on out, the sky is no longer the limit.