It is not a secret that I am afraid to fly. Having a rather domestic life, I haven't had that many opportunities to fly in the past 20 years so it hasn't been a big problem. In 2009, I went to Berlin for an art project and, two years later, I flew to Korea, again for an art project. Both were long flights but I managed them with the help of some Atavan and a Norman Fischer essay on shikantaza.
in the past six months, I deliberately created two opportunities to fly and it really did not go well in either case. Most recently, it was the night before my flight and as I wrestled with my demons - in tears at times - Lucy came home. I was sharing a little with her and she called out from the kitchen, "Have you built up a big rationalization of why you can't go yet?" Ouch! But the truth is - I had done exactly that.
Looking closer, there is something deeper than just fearing flying. If I am perfectly honest, the actual experience of flying is kind of exhilarating once the plane is in the air - I mean, how could it not be? So clearly there is something else going on, and maybe that is case with any kind of deep fear or phobia. Talking with a close friend, he suggested that there was a similarity between this fear and what goes on with someone who has an addiction. Certainly, I can see how I am letting people down: making promises and failing to live up to those promises because this force is leading my behaviors. The urges feel overwhelming and the "solution" in my mind (cancel the flight) feels correct even when I know, in my heart, that each time I don't fly at the last minute, I am reinforcing something that isn't healthy. I think the analogy with an addiction has some merit.
Perhaps, like an addiction, the first step is admitting that you have a problem and asking for help. I can see that I do need help with this fear and whatever it is that lies behind it. The feeling of the fear is miserable. It is awful on every level and yet it is my go-to reaction. So what's up with that? I assume people with addictions can see how it is ruining their lives and hurting people around them, and yet they still make that move to pour another drink or light up one more time. Reflecting more, I wonder at how it happens that I allow myself to be in that state of extreme fear. It's not like I have no tools for settling my mind! My experience this past time wasn't that I couldn't access those tools, it was that I didn't even remember them!
The one thing that I did differently this time was that I didn't beat myself up about it. Yes, it needs some attention and to be addressed but, also, it is part of being in the human realm. I don't need to make it a big deal and yet, I shouldn't ignore it either.
How about you? Any big fears that are also no big deal?