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Flying: The Power of a Simple Act…

09/12/2010
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“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom; justice; honor; duty; mercy; hope” Winston Churchill

Simple Acts: Jet Flying over St Maarten beachgoers...

Flying Fearlessly: How I was helped by a few simple words from a stranger.
This week, Mamakat’s Writers Workshop has offered five one word prompts and I have chosen the word “simple” because this unassuming word carries a lot of power. Confucius said that “life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” If we can master the art of simplifying our lives, clearing the debris from our minds, we will come to enjoy the freedom that comes from being at peace with circumstances and recognizing that there often are simple solutions to situations.

Do you love to travel? Do you have a fear of flying? Do you panic whenever there is turbulence on your flight? Read on, the little story below might help you breathe easy the next time you fly.

Mama's Losin' It

This Week’s Prompts:
This week I want you to write a post inspired entirely by one of these words:
1.) Simple.
2.) Angst.
3.) Excruciating.
4.) Enchanted.
5.) Bold.

I’ve always loved traveling and never had issues with flying, traveling by ship, or any other mode of transportation. After the events of 9/11, I suddenly developed a paralyzing fear of flying. Initially, I thought the anxiety and palpitations would go away once we were in the air but I was wrong. Whenever possible, I drove or took trains. If I had to fly I often reconsidered.

As the years went by, I traveled less out of the country and soon recognized that if I ever wanted to enjoy visiting other exotic places, I would need to get back on a plane and not sweat it. In the spring of one year, I had to travel to Las Vegas for a convention and had to fly. I was going with a group of friends and they offered lots of advice; take a sleeping pill, drink wine, get hypnosis, go with the flow, etc, etc…

The day of our flight arrived and I was really nervous. I got on the plane and prayed a lot even as my palms got sweaty and I started feeling dizzy. I had an aisle seat and the couple sitting next to me happily chatted away. The flight took off without incident and all seem to go well until we hit some turbulence along the way.

Immediately, I went into panic mode, and when the next bumpy moment hit, I let out a gasp, looked at the couple sitting next to me and reached out to grab the arm of the man. He was very gracious and started talking to me about flying and those statistics we often read/hear about… yes, flying is safer than driving a car and accidents are fewer.

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Albert Einstein

Simple Acts of Kindness: A Delta Airlines Jet in flight...

I listened until we hit another bump and I let out a yelp. At that point, he told me something that shifted my perspective and set me back on the road to overcoming my fear and enjoying flying fearlessly again. He said, “Listen; imagine driving on the road to an appointment. At different points in the road, you might hit a small pothole, a bumpy or hilly road. Your car goes over these bumps and you drive on without any danger to you or the car. Each time you fly and experience turbulence, imagine it‘s a bump in the road and that the pilots are experienced and quite capable of riding over the bumps without endangering your life.” Keep your seat belt on, relax and breathe. Simple!

I visualized what he told me and at that moment, I got it. We talked some more and it turned out he was a Delta Airlines pilot on his way home after working his schedule. His girlfriend was with him and they talked about how much they loved flying… I told them that flying was a love of mine and that the fear started after 9/11. They were very sympathetic and I was thankful that someone could take such a scary moment and explain it in simple, logical terms.

For the rest of the flight, I was a tad more relaxed. We landed in Vegas and got ready to exit the plane when the gentleman said, “Wait, I have a little gift for you. Here are your new wings!” And with those words, he handed me a little plastic golden badge/pin with the Delta Airlines insignia on it. We all had a good laugh and I accepted my gift with joy; you see, airlines routinely give these pins to kids on flight… you know , to let them know they’ve earned their flying wings so they can pretend to be pilots.

I cherished that pin and with time, completely overcame my fear. Last week, as I was looking through an old purse, I found the pin and the memory of that wonderful encounter came rushing back… I shared the story with my best friend who works for United Airlines and we both agreed that something in my unconscious had never forgotten that kindness because a few years later, when my new job entailed regular bi-coastal travel, I became a frequent flyer on Delta Airlines. The relationship remains today… Indeed, it was triggered by the power of a simple act of kindness.

Do you have a similar story to share? How have you overcome a fear? If you are still struggling with a fear what are doing to help you over it? Do share! Thank you!
Positive Motivation Tip: When we stop, breathe and listen, we often find simple solutions to complex situations.

PHOTO/LYRICS CREDITS:
Picture of Plane flying over St Maarten by Kent Miller via NatGeo
Picture of Delta A330 Jet via Wikipedia

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank

11 Comments leave one →
  1. 10/12/2010 2:00 am

    I overcame many fears when I began to pursue my passion! My goals were more important than my excuses and I grew a lot.

    • 10/12/2010 3:41 pm

      Good for you that your passion has served as a bridge over fear.
      Great point too that our goals can give us the impetus to move forward.
      Blessings 🙂
      E

  2. 10/12/2010 3:21 pm

    It’s great that you managed to overcome your fear of flight. It really takes a lot of effort to face up to them.

    • 10/12/2010 3:44 pm

      True. It does take a lot of effort and mind-over-matter to overcome some types of fear…
      I didn’t want to make it seem as if it was/is easy but to illustrate how a mental shift can be so simple.
      Good to hear from you…it’s been a while. 🙂 How are you lately?
      E

  3. Bree permalink
    10/12/2010 3:47 pm

    I really liked this piece especially in light of all the negativity the TSA has had to live with lately.
    I like that the pilot gave you your golden wings and encouraged you with logic and compassion.
    We need more of that approach in our world today.
    9/11 was incredibly traumatic and you story was another reminder of its impact on evry day life.
    B

    • 10/12/2010 3:51 pm

      Thanks Bree… I love flying and travel and it was very strange for me to suddenly feel so frightened about something I loved doing. It’s amazing that years later, it all made sense why somehow in my subconscious, I picked Delta as my airline of choice. That act of kindness stayed with me. And even in forgetting and moving on, my spirit remembered… 🙂
      Happy Holidays!
      E

  4. Turb Coriolis permalink
    10/12/2010 6:58 pm

    You may be interested in our fear of flying eBook “Dragons of Thin Air,” for a slightly different approach to the problem. It costs nuthin’ and can be found at: www(dot) dragonsofthinair(dot) com

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