Helga’s Heartlines: A Journal
October 1, 2001
The cataclysmic destruction wrought just days ago over North American skies by a few fanatical lost souls effectively traumatized an unsuspecting population. No longer somnambulant and comfortable in our self-absorbed naiveté, we are finally awakened to the reality of the unrecognized terror in our midst. ‘Fear of Flying’ has been afforded a whole new dimension even for those predisposed to it.
I, Baby Boomer and long-time travel enthusiast, can remember when world-wide wanderlust, globe-trotting and adventure tripping to far-flung foreign realms was exciting, exhilarating, the highest of highs. What a sorry state of affairs has descended upon us with the instantaneous demise of International jetliners on languishing tarmacks. I still recall the charged atmosphere, the electric excitement and eagerness of those earlier package tours but sadly can’t recapture the feeling. On Saturday September 22nd Toronto International Airport was in torpor. We were down to a less than half-full fifty seater; as far as I looked it was the only size I saw.
Speaking of said phrase, ‘Fear of Flying’, I know very well the rational imperative – Get a grip, girl! Timeworn exhortations came readily to mind, flailed me into submission, surrendered me to commonsense. “No risk, no reward.” “The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave soul dies but once.” “Bravery is the middle path between rashness and cowardice.” “Nobody gets out of this life alive – so live your life with purpose.” “Carry on for those who didn’t get the chance.”
Having told myself so, insistently, it was no surprise to me I found myself flying to Florida this day.
I’ll be honest. I naturally thought about taking the precautionary course - driving instead - but my companion and driver would have none of it. (One feisty fellow he is, I can certify – a chief reason our association has lasted so long.) With a pre-booked holiday and only 7 days to take it, he convinced me such compromise was hardly practical – no sensible way to spend the bulk of our limited time. He was right, particularly in retrospect. How much we would have missed! Too hard-pressed to relax and enjoy ourselves.
Further, most persons I spoke to, glibly emphasized this was precisely the best of all possible times to travel. Well, I believed them, took their advice to heart, even when their actions belied the bravado. Albeit, there were a few who reacted as if I needed my head examined. I was happy to come back intact, look ‘em in the eye and make them mindful of my survival and wonderful time.
One thing about me: when I psyche myself up, I psyche myself up. Positive self-talk. Boy, it works when you’re convinced of it! Once embarked, I refocused. I looked to my spiritual center, first, then tuned into each and every newspaper report and editorial on board on the subject of America Under Siege. That took care of a lot of miles. I was surprised when we arrived at our destination too soon for me to finish. Seventeen passengers, including we two, took that return flight, plus the pilot and one seasoned stewardess. The snacks and refreshments, while scarcely up to standard, tasted better than they should have, the beverages more savored. We had an exceptionally smooth landing.
I’m glad we went. I think of the experiences, the memories, the people and places I otherwise would have missed. To voluntarily deprive myself of exercising my freedom to come and go as I please would have been an absurd over-reaction in the face of a false sense of ‘unsafety’. Who would have won with that option, and who lost?
In this not-so-brave New World, just heralded, we have either the freedom to impose self-limitations or opt for the kind of liberty that comes with ensuring the highest possible standards of public security. I have no problem with being subjected to stringent airport search and surveillance along with my co-passengers – then I can be preoccupied with something other than paranoia about them and their purposes.
Here’s another confession. Only after we landed again firmly on ‘terra firma’ did my partner actually admit to me, “Of course I was worried - Who wouldn’t be?”
He fooled me!
He effectively tricked worry out of me!
I learned something.
“Beyond fright is Freedom.” You can quote me.
~ Helga Marion Ross ~