I have decided to face one of my biggest fears: flight. I have not been on a plane in nearly 10 years. Despite the fear and the lengths to which I have gone to avoid flying (see post on cruising the Atlantic), I have decided to fly down to Greece for my vacation. I will take the train back, but psyching myself up for the flight down.
Phobos is the Greek god of fear. Phobia comes from the same Greek root-word. So it seems somehow appropriate that I go to Greece as an act of facing my fear. What is also nicely congruent is that the flights will be about the same length as those that I bailed on 8 years ago due to fear. That trip as well was to go on a cruise. That time in the Caribbean, this time to the Aegean. I am being given a second chance to make the choice to stare down fear and do it anyway.
I have noticed a number of posts lately about how to face the fear of flight. Most concentrate on looking at the logic of flight and how it is so very unlikely that anything bad will happen. I studied aerospace engineering for a year at Uni. I know more than most exactly how a plane flies. I have been on planes before and flown across oceans. None of this wonderful logic seems to help against the anxiety I feel toward flight.
I was flying with my parents and by myself at a fairly young age. I don’t even remember my first flight or even how many flights I’ve been on. I was always a fairly nervous flier, especially by myself, but it was getting to be ok around 2000, taking a trip with a friend to New York City. However that same year I had a truly wretched flight across the US. It bounced and pitched the entire way. Whoever decided “A Perfect Storm” was a good movie choice for an airplane should be punished severely. This flight could have just been a blip in my memory, except for watching airplanes fly into buildings live on TV the following September. At the time I didn’t think that it affected me much, but a year later when I was booking a flight to the Caribbean for vacation I couldn’t sleep for several weeks until I canceled it. This started in on my first round of panic attacks that ended with my first cruise to Europe.
“You didn’t come to me to make a decision, you came because you didn’t like the decision you had already made.” – The Very Thought of You
So I am terrified to go on a flight again, but I’m going to do it anyway. I am tired of letting the fear dictate my actions and choices. Especially when there are travel destinations at the end of those flights to places where I can’t yet take the time to go on land. Impatience and Desire > Fear. I will still dislike flight I imagine. Especially with all the security and lack of food or legroom that people keep telling me about. But in doing this I will show myself that I can face one of my biggest fears.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the experiences of taking cruise ships across the ocean and spanning Europe on the train. I’m not giving that up completely, and they will still be my preferred method of travel. Grounded Traveler isn’t exactly a pun. I am only planning one direction of flight this time. I enjoy the long train trips and don’t want to miss out on those experiences. So I will fly down and take the ferry and train home. This has the added benefit of letting me visit friends in Italy on the way.
A large portion of my psyche wants to take the train both ways, reminding me how cool it is to be on the train and talk to people. And how neat it is to say I’ve seen the world without airplanes. That is not pride, but fear. Pride in my actions I can manage, fear reactions not anymore. So the quote above is pertinent. I don’t like this decision, but I think it is the best one.
This post serves as a public declaration, to help encourage me from backing out at the last minute. I will book the flight tomorrow, so this is a pre-purchase post. Then we will see how I sleep and manage the next several months.