On the way home, as I entered the Houston airport to pick up a plane for Dallas, I noticed immediately something peculiar: I was calm. I felt... well, the best way to put it is... “normal.”
I stopped examining the faces of the other passengers in search of a terrorist profile or trying to identify some angry man about to put a bomb on a plane to dispose of his mother-in-law. This sensation of tranquility lasted for about twenty-five minutes, and I took note of it because it was so strange, so different from the usual state of hysteria I had suffered during the previous trip. Of course, my stress and tension returned as soon as I was buckled in my seat.
Thank God! The tour was over. Heaving a sigh of relief, I was home, bringing with me a major change. Still terrified of flying, I was actually willing to consider going on a vacation in an airplane. “Major” is an understatement.
And so, as a family, we began flying to Snowmass in Colorado, to Europe in the summer... here, there and everywhere. I also accepted invitations to speak and to teach.
Of course my hyper vigilance was on active duty at all times, smelling the interior of the plane to detect smoke or any untoward and dangerous aroma; examining the faces of the flight attendants to see if they knew anything terrible that I didn’t know; checking the weather (on land and in the air). An empty seat with a briefcase sitting on it was enough to bring on an arsenal of relaxation techniques and listening to the voice of the captain. (Oh, that was a good one. I was a therapist, and I could tell from his voice in just one or two sentences, if he was intoxicated, a dope addict, possibly psychotic, or had not had enough sleep the night before. Oh yes, I was working all the time.)
And then one day I was sitting in a plane, waiting to take off for England. I was scheduled to do a TalkPower seminar at the Barbican in London. Reading a book, I was blithely unaware of the comings and goings of other passengers, which in itself was no small miracle because I had never been able to read a book while waiting for a plane to take off. Oh no, not me! I had always been much too busy, checking the vibrations, the faces, the crew, the captain, belly breathing, listening to my relaxation tapes, praying. I looked out the window, and I was amazed: I saw beautiful white clouds all around me.
The plane had actually taken off without the assistance of my consciousness. What a pleasant surprise! Letting down on the job? Was I becoming casual about this? Perhaps not. Perhaps something else was happening.
To be continued...