Friday, February 18, 2011

Attention Passengers, We'll Be On The Ground Shortly

I hate flying.  Yes, I have done it many times.  Yes, my brother and I flew at a young age without our parents.  Yes, I once flew alone.  And yes, the total number of flights I have taken far exceeds that of a typical person with a 'fear of flying.'

But, I still hate it.  From the minute I learn I'll be flying, which is usually when the ticket is purchased, I stop sleeping.  This is why I've never bought my own ticket.  I will never willingly get on a plane; I'll never have that urge to travel to an exotic destination and begin researching the best fares.  I get on planes when forced - usually with laryngitis from hours of cursing out the culprit.  It's a good time for spectators.

A day of flying is my 'get out of jail free' card.  I'm not myself, and people just have to accept my behaviors.  On route to the airport, I sit silently in the car, staring out the window, envisioning myself clinging to the armrest when we plunge to the ground.  When I leave my house, I assume I'm not coming back.  And once I'm inside that metal test tube, you should probably just stun me. 

Narcotics help.  Now, before anyone gets alarmed, know everything I have ever taken was prescribed by a doctor.  He probably wouldn't be thrilled to learn the quantities of alcohol that accompany those capsules, so let's keep that between us, okay?

I can't relax.  I panic, becoming shaky, apprehensive, and nasty.  Breathing hurts.  I snap when someone speaks to me; I say things I would never normally say.  And if it weren't for that no smoking law, I'd probably have an entire carton finished off in one short flight to Florida.

There is a point to this ramble.  My entire life, I've been plagued by plane crash dreams.  Generally, it's when I'm about to go somewhere, but they also sneak up on me out of the blue.  I have not flown since my college graduation, when my friends and I treated ourselves to a cruise before starting the horrific stage known as the employment search.  That was nearly six years ago, so why the recent dreams?

They're always the same - everything starts off fine, and then, out of nowhere, the plane nose-dives.  I never remember where I'm going; I rarely remember who I'm with.  But I remember the dive; those last few minutes where, in my dream, my thought process varies.  Usually I have that 'of course this would happen to me' attitude.  Though lately, it's more of a 'there is so much I wanted to do' attitude.  And when I wake up, breathing heavily, sweat layering my forehead, I'm relieved I have another day to journey toward my dream.

But this week was different.  Wednesday night, my recurring dream stopped in.  There were a lot of people I recognized on the plane, but I can't remember them at the moment.  I do remember I was traveling solo.

I share this story today because something interesting - something unexpected took place in that particular occurrence.  For the first time, at least the first time I can remember, the plane landed safely.  No nose-dive; no panic.  The wheels touched, I grabbed my duffle bag from the overhead compartment, and I walked off.  Proudly.

People say dreams mean a number of things.  Supposedly, plane crashes reflect a feeling your life is spiraling out of control; that you've set unreachable goals and now your life is 'crashing' down before you.

I don't know how true that is, but I am choosing to believe my recent dream is a sign.  I've decided the safe landing symbolizes finishing my novel.  It's telling me when it happens, it will be okay.  I have nothing to fear.  My draft is not the disaster I think it is; it's simply the test run before moving forward.  I'm the pilot; I'm flying the plane.  Although there is much work to be done,the work can be done and I am capable of doing it.  That knowledge will keep me going.

It's been a long journey, but the end is in sight.  We've started landing.  The pilot can see the runway.  The flight attendants have collected trash and prepared the cabin for arrival.  Gazing out the window, I can decipher signs of civilization - trees, houses, swimming pools.  It's close, and the view is breathtaking.


  1. Usually when dreams involve any form of transportation, the amount of control you have or it has correlates to how your subconscious feels or is trying to tell you about the level of control you think or don't think you have in your life.

    Run-on but hopefully that made my point.

    Breakfast Every Hour

  2. I love flying. I always try to book my flight early in the morning, but not before 7:00 a.m. because they don't serve drinks before 7:00 a.m. and that is an essential part of flying if you ask me. I've also never made a flight on time. Or I book the wrong flight. This happens every time I fly. Because of this, I think the probability of another bad thing happening (plane crashing) is rather low.

  3. I like how you tied this in with your writing. It's well done. I also, really like the ending - 'the view is breathtaking'. I have to agree that in flight and finishing a novel are both breathtaking.

    P.S. I'm just the opposite, though, I'd LOVE to travel to many exotic locations. Those are the types of dreams I have. :)

  4. I hate flying. And I rarely see the view because I won't take the window seat.

  5. Alex O. - I agree with you; I think there is a correlation between my discomfort the lack of control over flying. I also think I'm starting to see that, with writing, I have a little more control than I originally though.

    Austin - Believe it or not, I have had moments where, once we are safely in the sky, I start to relax and I do enjoy the experience. I do a lot better when I'm with other people, and I'm better going home because I'm more used to it from the flight to wherever I went. I think if I took planes more frequently, I would get used to it. My family flew a lot when I was in middle school and I started getting more comfortable - but then there was a huge break and my anxiety returned.

    TK - Thanks for the compliment; I'm glad you picked up on the point I was trying to make. I do LOVE traveling and have quite a lengthy bucket list of places I would like to visit. I just have to work on this transportation issue before I make any plans, haha.

    Alex C. - I took a flight in 2004 to West Palm Beach, Florida. I had a window seat. As soon as I sat down, I closed the shade, just as I had always done. But that time - the flight attendant told me I couldn't have it closed during take off. She sighted some post 9/11 reason which made no sense to me, but I didn't argue. I've never had a window seat since.

  6. You always come up with such cool analogies. And when it's written out before you, it's easy to see how writing a book IS like flying a plane. Your characters and setting and plotlines are your passengers, and it's your job as the pilot to get them to their final destination safely. Well said, my friend, well said.

    And I used to be just like you about scared the bejeezus out of me. But then a few years ago I took a job that required flying a few times a month, so I had to get over it. Now I love it!

  7. I hear once you finish the first draft they let you take a bus.

  8. Jamie - Thank you, sir. Considering I don't like my analogies very much, and considering I was horrible at them in school, that was a nice compliment to hear. And yes, I do think if I did more flying I will get over it. I'll just need a lot of people with me to get me over the hump.

    Bryan - That was a funny comment, my friend. Thanks for the laugh.

  9. I've flown twice. First time I was 16 & I loved it...but that was so long ago. The second time was my honeymoon, 5 years ago. Both times to California. Both trips very different. Both flights went well, but my reactions were at opposite poles.

    I hate flying. I'm terrified. I don't like heights and my dreams are always plagued with falling and I feel that awful drop in my gut just like it was real. (My dreams are a whole story in themselves, though.)

    I hope this dream helps on your next flight because I know exactly what you describe here and I hate it. I hate it with every fiber of my being.

    Also...thanks for putting me on your list of bloggers! :)

  10. Just came over from Twitter to say hello. Although I don't have 'crashing' dreams, I know there are a lot of insecurities in both flying and writing.

    When it comes to flying I don't mind the 'in the air' part, but because I tend to be claustrophobic I have to fight the panic that teases me with, "You can't get off right now. You can't even open the window." At least in my writing I feel I have total control over what I write, if not in the publication and review aspects.


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