Flying – Not One Of My Favorite Things

We just finished a two-leg flight from Phoenix, which was a lot easier than the three-leg flights we endured to and from Michigan last week.  I prefer hugging the land.  If something is a one-day drive away, i.e., twelve hours or less, I hit the road.  

When I have to fly, however, those flight descents are murder on my ears.  I’m extremely thankful for whoever developed Earplanes.  In the days before those little Frankenstein ear pins, the piercing pain in my stubborn, non-clearing ears would have me in tears all the way down to the landing strip.  But that nifty invention took away my flying pain. 

I’m still left with the challenge of trying to clear my ears, though, on every leg of every flight.  I always feel sorry for the people seated around me.  

Is that lady screwy in the head?  Why does she keep opening her mouth and yanking her jaw around?  Does she have a weird tic, like silent-scream syndrome?  And heck, she keeps yawning and making me yawn.  Why don’t those TSA screeners do their job? 

After each landing, I’m in a bubble.  I hear muffled sounds.  I turn to see my husband’s mouth moving to the unintelligible babble. 

“Are you talking to me?” I ask. 

“Did you hear anything I said?” he asks. 

“I can’t hear anything.  Sorry.” 

If you think flying with me can be a bonding experience, forget about it. 

It used to be a lot worse, though, back in the days when I had an unsettling fear of flying.  I wasn’t aware of this fear until I went up in a little four-seater with the hubby and his Mom, early in our marriage.  My father-in-law was smart.  He said he’d enjoy watching from the ground, and happily waved good-bye as we climbed into that little panic machine.  As we sped down the little airport runway, I was suddenly gripped in the jaws of terror.  

What the heck am I doing?  I don’t want to be here! 

I sized up the pilot, who spoke with a strange, foreign accent.  I tried to calm myself with rational thoughts. 

He doesn’t want to die, does he? 

My fingernails gouged the armrests as I tried to act like everything was OK.  I happen to be the praying kind, and my personal devotions were taken up ten notches or so. 

God, please don’t let me die! 

Happily, we finally landed, and I yanked my fingers from the sweaty vinyl pits they had formed.  My shaking hands unbuckled the seat belt.  As we got off the little plane of horror … alive … we were greeted by my father-in-law’s smiling face. 

“So how was it?” he asked. 

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” I said.  “I will never do that again!” 

He smiled in an understanding way.  We bonded … in our unspoken acknowledgement of a shared fear … or some kind of superior wisdom possessed only by land-huggers. 

Time marched on, and so did my growing trepidation with unavoidable flights of terror.  Airports launched me into a state of anxiety I couldn’t explain. 

One day, while waiting for a flight in Chicago’s O’Hare, I noticed an abandoned newspaper beside me.  I flipped through it, and experienced an epiphany when I read the Dear Abby column.  Someone had written in, expressing his fear of flying and the quest for some kind of cure.  Abby minced no words in her reply.  She told the guy he had control issues.  He most likely always had to be in control of every situation, but flying found him helplessly out of control.  Thus, the fear.  Once he dealt with his control issues, he’d be able to overcome his fear of flying. 

Well, shut my mouth.  Abby, you nailed me.  Yes, my name is Judy, and I am a control freak.  Is there a twelve-step program…? 

Oddly enough, the simple realization that my fear of flying was a control issue was all I needed.  I boarded the plane, and had a talk with God. 

Lord, I am not in the hands of the pilots, the mechanics, or this monstrous machine.  I am in your hands.  Please bring us all safely to our destination. 

Short and sweet … and I was at peace.  My fear of flying was gone.  Trust took its place.  

If you have a fear of flying, I can’t promise you a spiritual awakening.  That’s between you and your Maker.  But the answer for me began with the realization I had control issues. 

I still wrestle with wanting to be in control, but I’m learning to yield more and more with each passing year.  There are a lot of smart, trained, and skillful folks out there, and yes, they do want to stay alive.  I can let them take the reins … for a while. 



2 Responses to “Flying – Not One Of My Favorite Things”

  1. Don Jones Says:

    Judy, I talk to God every time we take off and land. I seem to have become a religious zealot with the amount of air time we have. We are going to Sedona today with Lisa. Glad you and Steve got home safe. It was great seeing you. Peace Don

    • judyransom Says:

      Hi, Don! Isn’t that the truth … fear can definitely turn a person into a praying one! It was great seeing you and Jane, and congratulations for winning attendance in the 25K meeting!!!

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