Fear of flying

I feel sad this morning, heavy, full of ambivalence and more aware than usual of the turning forward of time. We stand on the fulcrum of a new decade, and I feel both scared of the uncertainty beyond January 1 and rueful about all I did not accomplish in this last year.

Today, right now, feels suffused with uncertainty. My vision into this next decade is even cloudier than usual. This was made concrete yesterday when I drove in the rain and realized my defrost was broken: I could not see and found myself navigating by dead reckoning. I got there, but my heart was racing in my chest as I did.

I know I am poised at an inflection point. Intellectually I recognize the tremendous opportunity this could represent, but my emotional response of fear and hanging onto what is known is at least as powerful. My head’s logical words are drowned out by my heart’s searing howl. I sense the familiar fear of what lies ahead battling with my deep desire to be braver and bolder. My frequent tears are the only tangible evidence of this war that is going on silently inside my chest.

On December 1st, Kelly wrote about the achingly full moon, pregnant with possibility, and about her own fears of uncertainty. She wrote a line I haven’t been able to forget:

I am more intimate with no than I am with maybe.

Oh, yes. How true this is. Ambiguity terrifies me, make me feel unstable and out of control (correlated personality trait: I hate roller coasters and will not go on them. Also: I won’t eat foods whose uncertainty scares me – oysters are a prime example). Feeling my feet off of the ground? No thanks. This makes me wonder: what would it take for me to feel safe enough to take those risks?

Maybe 2010 needs to be the year that I close my eyes and trust my instinct to get me there (where is there? my map is doesn’t apply anymore. conversation for another post). That I let my feet leave the ground. There is no other way to fly.

4 thoughts on “Fear of flying”

  1. You possess everything to succeed at what you choose to do. The talent, the drive, the support system.

    Ambiguity is part of life. It doesn’t lessen. Those who see the world as more black and white seem to live with less ambiguity. I wouldn’t choose it, and it isn’t in my nature. It would surprise me if that kind of (blind?) certainty were in yours.

    There is no need to have one and only one direction. There is nothing wrong with changing directions. And while there is something terrifying in being on the brink of whatever comes next – unsure what that is – it’s also breathtaking when you have so much capacity (as you do) to pursue it. Whatever “it” may be, let yourself ease into it, give it some steam and slack. You will find it; it will find you.

    Many years ago, when I was trying to decide about something significant (to me), weighing the possible risks and rewards, someone said to me: “What is the worst possible thing that could happen? If you don’t succeed, will you die?”

    My answer: “No.”

    Then: “So what is the worst possible thing that could happen?”

    I remember having to think about that. I realized that I would be disappointed in myself, and feel lousy for awhile, then try a new approach, or try again later, or try something else.

    I’ve never forgotten those words – What’s the worst that could happen?

    And I call upon them, regularly, when at crossroads of many sorts. I assess, and either take a step or a leap accordingly. I’ve failed at some things. I’ve succeeded at others. That “worst” – by giving it form beforehand – took some of the fear away. Not all, but some.

  2. This post makes me think about a book I read a few years ago when I had no idea of the direction of my life, let alone a map: Dark Nights of the Soul by Thomas Moore.

    “Imagine that…the external source of your suffering is a large, living container in which you are held captive. But this container is moving, getting somewhere, taking you where you need to go.”

    I hope you can trust yourself to know that even though there may not be visible signs of progress, you most certainly are headed somewhere.

    Make the map up as you go….

  3. I so understand where you are coming from but BLW could not have said it better. You have everything you need to go along whatever path you should choose.

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