I get very anxious when I fly.
Before take off, I find a quiet area in the airport and spend 10 minutes meditating to the Fear of Flying segment on the Headspace mindfulness app.
Then, as soon as we are “wheels up,” I genuflect. Mind you, I’ve not gone to Church regularly since I left home to go to college more than 30 years ago. And yet, as soon as the plane begins take off, I instinctively find myself doing the signs of the cross.
Lately, however, in the wake of my mother’s recent move and the several transatlantic flights I’ve done in recent months, I find myself actually looking forward to airplane rides.
Why, with a lifetime fear of flying behind me, am I now enjoying airplane rides?
Because it is one of the few times in my life when I let go of the idea that I ought to be doing anything other than relaxing. Simply put, I let go of my “shoulds.”
Much like a sick day, when I get onto an airplane, I take myself “off of the clock.” I stop thinking that it’s a great opportunity to catch up on email (now that it’s available in flight) or to work on my book or to hunt for jobs. Instead, I do my favorite things.
Not raindrops and roses and whiskers on kittens. But my version of that, which entails skimming lots of New Yorkers, reading a novel by my new favorite Nordic Noir author, Karl Ove Knaussgaard, and watching the occasional film (but only if I can find one that suits my decidedly dark tastes.) The last two eight hour journeys I took, I didn’t even bother with the films. I watched a bunch of different American television dramas I’d always been curious about but had never sampled.
And that is deeply therapeutic.
Happiness blogger Gretchen Rubin recommends that if you want to declutter your house, pretend that you’re moving. Only with that mindset will you feel the urgency of actually getting rid of things you don’t need.
In a similar vein, perhaps the takeaway lesson from all of this flying of late is that I need to make the rest of my life more like an airplane ride. Whenever I find myself starting to get stressed, my mantra should be: “Pretend that You’re Flying.” No one is watching. My Panel of Elders is sleeping. And maybe then I’ll chill out.
How about you? Do you have a place you go – literally or metaphorically – that absolves you of the feeling that you have to do anything? (Yes, I know. Some people call them weekends, but for reasons that will have to wait until another post, I have a tortured relationship to weekends.)
Originally published at realdelia.com