Once upon a time I was a fearless traveler. But fear of flight soon crept into my life and settled in like an unwanted houseguest. What happened? I had never had any real flying scares, nothing more than a bumpy landing here and there. My fear was irrational and deeply lodged. I wanted to be brave. I wanted to be adventurous and jet here and there, but my fear made travel a source of anxiety for days on end. Even after arriving safely in my visiting location, it didn't dissipate. Instead, I spent the days before my return trip as a jumbled ball of nerves. But when my daughter who lives in another state became pregnant with my first grandchild, I knew I needed to overcome my fear of flying.
After lengthy consideration, I came to the conclusion that my fear of flying must be a fear of something else, something larger. After all, I knew that flying was safe. I soon understood that my irrational fear stemmed from uncertainty. There are many things in life which we cannot control, but flying seemed to stand out as the perfect metaphor for all the rest. I realized that what makes us afraid is that when we fly, we are out of control. We place our life in the hands of our pilot, someone who's a complete stranger. Then there's the claustrophobia factor, at its worst on a small jet, and, of course, turbulence makes travel dreadful for most people. But I knew if I chickened out, I would lose respect for myself and miss this momentous moment in my life. And so I talked with friends and gathered the tools needed to help me to climb my mountain of fear and stand on top in triumph. Viewed this way, the trip was a dare--one I needed to be brave enough to take. Read on to learn what helped me to scale my mountain.
Julia Cameron is the author of the new book SAFE JOURNEY: Prayers and Comfort for Frightened Flyers and Other Anxious Souls.