As you probably know, I love to travel and fly, but when the aircraft shakes, I do too. I occupied seat 1A in first class on Virgin America on a typically mundane route between New York and San francisco when halfway through the flight, somewhere above Chicago, the plane started gyrating and rattling, bumping up and down violently. No matter how comfortable I tried to make myself, I couldn’t calm myself down. I tightened my seatbelt as one of the flight attendants strapped in across from me at the pilot’s instruction. I noticed that as I clutched the seat, my hands were getting sweaty and I kept checking to see if the attendant was nervous is any way. We exchanged glances and he didn’t look too alarmed, but maybe they are trained to act that way.
“Is this normal?” I asked him with as straight a face as I could muster but with my hands giving me away as I gripped on for dear life. I studied his face as he admitted the bumps were quite pronounced but he didn’t yet look afraid. That did not make me feel any better.
The pilot came on and said the turbulence and rough air would last at least another hour. My focus shifted to my watch as if each passing minute would accelerate time and bring me more calm. I told myself about how, as I had read, turbulence is not really dangerous if you are buckled in and that planes can handle so much more than this, but the ride could not end soon enough for me. With every rational thought that I was safe, my heart still pounded with each thump and I caught myself praying it would be over. I was filled with fear. It’s amazing how crazy the mind can make one feel when fear takes over. Eventually the thumps and bumps died away, as I knew it would, and we landed safely and uneventfully.
This month has been uncertain, hopeful and sometimes just boring but I would say that my anxiety is much worse now than it was the first couple of months. What’s interesting is that it’s not a relapse that keeps me clutching the seat, it’s the difficulty I have living with uncertainty. Even though I have never had a better understanding of what needs to be done to heal myself, I am still faced with the same challenges I always had. Faith, trust, discipline, belief and letting go of control.
I have always been a risk taker of sorts with the businesses I have chosen and the trips I have taken. How odd that I would choose to live on the edge so much of my life when I always found comfort in certainty. It is really painful to worry about outcomes I have little control over.
I have felt really great physically these past few weeks, yet there are still times that any small turbulence rattles me. I need that control. I need to know how everything in my life will end up. I am still in remission, yet I need to know with certainty my cancer will never return. Could that be possible?
I am working again and I am dealing with the challenges I have been dealt. I know that holding on harder and trying to read the faces of my friends and family for any doubt they have wilI not change a thing. I know that actually letting go will do me better. I can point out to many outside variables, things that are beyond my control, which help to shift to a calmer me, become a more present person and bring more happiness, but it’s belief, or faith, or love, or trust, or whatever I can create for myself that will allow me to lean my seat back, loosen my seatbelt and enjoy the view.