Balanced Mind,  Health

Dare to Fly

Do you Dare to Fly? The sound of the engines roared as I looked out the window of the Boeing 767. “What a spectacular view,” I thought. The tops of the snowcapped Italian Alps were peaking through the clouds. It was hard for me to figure out where the clouds ended and the mountains began. The plane landed a few minutes later in Milan, and I was off and headed towards the luggage-collection area with my future husband, Mario. We grabbed our luggage, rented a car, and then headed towards the first coffee stand he could find; it was cappuccino time, Italian style. “Don’t forget the chocolate-filled croissant,” he said, with his heavy Italian accent. He then proceeded to run out the airport door, excited to be back in his home country. I was literally chasing him to our rental car, and when we finally arrived, I wondered how we were ever going to fit our luggage into it. This was my first time in Europe. Mario had brought me home to meet his parents. We had started dating a year before our trip to Italy. Before that, he had been living and traveling all around the world, while I was, unfortunately, living in fear, fear of flying.

Flying means many things to many different people. To the ordinary person, it may mean a ride home for the holidays, a business trip with clients, or simply a means of travel to a much-desired destination like Hawaii perhaps or Paris, France. I thought I would never know because for me, flying meant a fear of crashing, which most likely would result in my imminent death, and if I was dead, then how would I ever enjoy Paris, right? So, I always thought that I had better just stay home.

For me, death was never a fun thought, and I don’t imagine it to be a fun thought for many others.  However, other people are able to get onto airplanes without imaging their sure demise.  What was wrong with me? I tried to analyze the situation. I thought long and hard. I never flew as a child. We never even had family vacations. My uncle, who was in politics once offered to take me on a short flight to Atlanta for a fun day of shopping and lunch, but I unfortunately declined. Sadly, he died the next year, and I always regretted that decision to have said “No” to his request. What a fun day we could have shared. He was only trying to help me, I thought. I continued to feel guilty for the missed opportunity and that wasn’t the only one. I had to finally admit it. Fear of Flying was ruining my life, destroying my dreams, and closing my doors. 

It wasn’t until I met Mario that I understood what I was really missing. He had collected so many beautiful things; a trunk carved in Africa, a jade elephant, an ebony statue, plates from Italy, and Switzerland.  He had simply wanted to take me to his home to meet his family, in Italy, but how would I ever survive the all-day plane trip there? He came up with an idea to take me to New York first. It was just a two-and-a-half-hour flight from where we lived. I was completely and utterly terrified!!!

I began to panic as Mario planned our trip, first a flight to Atlanta, Georgia, then to New York. Two plane changes. What? No, wait! Then, I thought maybe that was a good idea. It was only forty-five minutes to Atlanta, so if I changed my mind, I could theoretically refuse to board the next plane. Perfect Plan!  I could even rent a car and drive back home from Atlanta, which was only a six-hour drive, no problem, I imagined. I even started to envision how I might have to be knocked out, possibly even tranquilized. Then I visualized a whole new scenario. What if I just totally freaked out on the plane and they had to stop the plane and hall me off like some of those people you hear stories about on the news. This was my worst nightmare coming true, and my best dream coming true all at one time. Why? I finally realized that if I didn’t get on that plane, then I was already dead! However, if I did, and I survived, if I relinquished my control, then I could potentially realize newfound freedom like never before. This was the moment I had been waiting for all my life, the moment to finally face my worst fear.

I knew this time would come, eventually. At least I dreaded it and hoped for it all at the same time. It had always been my idea to travel to another country, I even wanted to work for National Geographic but, I never even tried, because of my fear of flying. I couldn’t take any more. Fear of flying kept me from chasing my dreams and now if I didn’t go to New York, I would be letting myself down again, letting Mario down,  and most of all, somehow, letting my Uncle down. So I decided to go. I decided to go whether I died on that plane or not, because if I didn’t then I WAS already dead; dead in the water, a dead woman walking, just plain dead! 

Before the flight, I thought long and hard about my life. Being on death’s door will do that to you. After all, I assumed that I wouldn’t make it off the plane. But, the time finally came. Yes, the hour finally arrived and I surprised myself and everybody in my family when I boarded that plane to Atlanta. Of course, I did panic initially, but no one hauled me away. I covered my face with my jacket during takeoff and refused to look out the window. I squeezed Mario’s hand so hard that I am certain that he lost feeling. I clearly would have rather been on the ground, but if I hadn’t gone, then I would not have experienced the love that I felt when the plane finally landed.  Oh yes! I’m alive! Kiss the ground!! I’m so excited to be alive!  Then there was New York!  Then, in summer, there was Italy. 

Yes, the sound of the engines roared, and now I was on my way, too far away from places that I never imagined myself. The view from the sky that early summer morning, when we passed over the Italian Alps, was amazing. The Snowcapped Alps sticking their heads up through the clouds to look at me, while I was flying high above them or rather floating by them like a cloud.  It was heavenly. How fantastic I felt that day with no more regrets. No more missed opportunities. I learned that those faraway places on the map really did exist.  I also learned that when I stopped avoiding scary situations, and I worked my way through them, then I would build up my confidence.  This was my biggest life lesson, as I could even apply what I experienced to other areas of my life, for example, beginning a new writing career, not being afraid to fail while pursuing it, and finally taking my love of photography to another level. Because I flew that day, I can fly now every day.  Now, I am finally living, viewing the world from up above, and on my way to my new adventures. I am trying things that I would never have tried before.  My collection of beautiful things awaits me, but most of all I am enjoying my recently discovered freedom, my new open doors.  Eventually, there was Switzerland, Austria, Holland, and Canada. Now I hope for more. How about you? Do you dare to fly?

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