I remember my very first flight. I was three years old dressed in a girly frock made by my Grandma Collins with gloves and the perfect little purse. These were the days when everyone dressed up to fly, including the stewardesses in their perfect crisp uniforms.
What I don’t remember is that there were mechanical difficulties with the plane, so my parents had spent the night before the flight with me and my baby brother at St. Louis Lambert Field Airport. Perhaps that partially explains my sickness on the flight.
Thus began a decades long struggle with fear of flying that neither logic nor Xanax could cure. My husband, who had his fixed-wing pilot’s license and later added a helicopter license, couldn’t understand it. Neither could I.
It would start with a generalized anxiety a few days before a flight, then culminate in shaking legs waiting for take-off, brittle posture for the duration of the flight, and a hyper-sensitivity to the slightest turbulence or unusual sound. Even the luxury of many corporate and private jet flights did little to quell my anxiety, though I did become more masterful at disguising it. My husband always helped if he was traveling with me, gently placing a hand on my shaking knee, to make me aware of my nerves.
Hundreds of flights later, I have learned to manage my fear. I am not sure what “cured” me, although I know there isn’t one single answer.
I am writing this from the window seat of yet another Southwest flight between Austin and St. Louis. Looking out the window at fluffy white clouds and a sweeping panorama of stunning patterns one only sees from above: road and fields and lakes and rivers, vegetation and cities all look different at 35k feet.
This vista prompts me to reflect on what we can see differently if we change our vantage point. Sometimes that’s a matter of unlocking fears so we can what’s outside of us rather than hiding inside our inner world of fear; other times, it’s matter of shifting our perspective, looking at situations from a different angle.
Orpah Winfrey said, “The smallest change in perspective can transform a life.”
Sometimes, a subtle shift of vantage point allows you to see something familiar in a totally new light. Think beyond your current mindset and watch the miracles that may come your way.