As time went on, my feelings of terror gradually disappeared, decreasing with each new flying experience. Today I must admit that I love to fly. I love it! I sit in my seat and play with my toys: my tapes, my books, my notes, my letters... no telephones, no appointments. It seems the only place I am truly free is in an airplane, and I love it. I even look forward to my tray of airplane food, sitting in my seat watching a movie, pressing a button to summon the flight attendant. “More ginger ale, please.”
And I ask myself: What happened to my terror? Where did it go? I grab my arms, I squeeze myself, looking for that feeling of dread that was so much a part of me as soon as I walked into an airport and the night before. Looking for terror and fear, that black cloud of anxiety, I pinch myself. Perhaps I am not alert. Where is it - that sensation of angst and tension as I sit, buckled in my seat, flying high over the oceans, plains or mountain ranges?
It’s gone! It’s totally gone. I do not have one drop of fear of flying in my entire body. I fly in the winter. Lightning cracks above the wings; hail pelts the plane; we drop and climb. No problem. I am dozing in my spa in the sky.
Last year, returning from the Bahamas, my plane was the object of a bomb scare. Not a peep out of me. I was sure everything would be all right. I am a naturally optimistic person. How did I do it? And this is like a Zen parable. I did it by doing it.
Why am I telling you all of this? I am telling you this story because, first of all, I think it’s very funny, and I enjoy sharing funny stories about myself. But more to the point, many of my students tell me that they have heard that once you have a fear you can never get rid of it, that there is always some tiny vestige (or some big vestige) of that original terror that remains forever and ever.
It’s not true. Look at me. As I said before, there is not one speck of fear about flying in my body or brain, and I would fly anywhere in a heartbeat. Just give me the chance.