I hate flying. It’s ironic when I consider the jet-set days of my childhood, flying between my grandmother in Bombay and my parents in Singapore.
I travelled like a pro back then, slept like the baby I was and only woke for the occasional exotic nibble proffered by my protective older sister and travel companion.
As I’ve gotten older, being 30,000ft above ground holds about as much thrill for me as being 30,000ft under ground. That I’m strapped to my seat with fixed meal times, surly service and a relaxation radio channel holds all the allure of an airborne psychiatric chamber in my opinion.
On this particular trip, my sweaty palms reached for the airline magazine in the seat pocket for the millionth time - desperate as I always am to achieve normalcy while confined in an engine-propelled tin box. And suddenly I found myself staring at a simple column titled, “Fear of Flying?”.
Tip A: Turn over control. When flying, you turn over control to the aircraft, the pilots and the cabin crew. This can be hard to accept. You are being looked after by extremely skilled and experienced navigators in a highly sophisticated and thoroughly maintained aircraft…and specifically constructed to fly and deal with all sorts of turbulence.
Turn over control? Now that’s a novel idea. I’ve spent the better half of my life wrestling control back after giving it away much to easily. Living life as an open book allowed me to experience a lot, but I was living in blind faith of the people and situations around me. I lived so unconsciously – preferring to call it free-spirited – and often according to the whims and desires of others, instead of listening to my own head, heart and gut. I had given up control of me.
How did I know? This growing sense that my personality, humour and patience were eroding. That my spirit was fading or being etched into something that fit people’s perceptions. And of course, a huge welling of anger - largely at myself. Finally! Common sense had come up for air.
Paired with a renewed self respect and a wiser kind of fearlessness,
I learnt you can only safely turn over control when you have mastered who you are, and what your needs and weaknesses are. Only then can you decide at any given moment or situation, whether you need to protect yourself, or, gently let go.
To know yourself means having a self-relationship of trust, respect, honesty, control, and good intentions. It also means forming relationships with friends and lovers wisely, listening to advice sparingly and picking associates and associations, intelligently.
Once all the pieces are in place – think of it as the jigsaw of your life – it all gets a little smoother. When the bumps come up again, at least you’ve got something that you can trust in with which to ride the storm.
However, in the case of my fear of flying, where giving up control requires a huge leap of my faith in unknown talent, training and engineering, I had to think more fearlessly about how to apply this. Much harder when you’re wondering if they’ve really screwed the wings on correctly.
And this is what it is. When you realise how to please yourself instead of trying to please and appease the world around you, there’s a strength in it that’s impossible to let go of. This can make you rigid in another way, and literally rooted in your beliefs.
To get to wherever I need to go then, perhaps it’s time to add a little faith to the mix.
The Goddess Principal is a monthly column by writer and TV host
Anita Kapoor on the highs and hiccups on the way to her best mind, body and soul. She thanks Holland Herald, KLM’s inflight magazine for setting her straight.