My March ‘flying solo’ challenge was predictably eventful, so it’s taken me a while to get round to writing about it!
This was the first time I’ve travelled by plane alone, un-medicated and in around 8 years. As I was helpfully reminded so often in the run up to the day, flying is not a challenge for everyone. However, I’m an extremely nervous flier and have previously had to take Diazepam just to get me through even a short flight. Special mention to all those who hit me with “Oh I fly all the time, it’s easy. It’s just like taking a bus-you’ll be fine.” No, it really is not at all?!😂 I haven’t ever been 38,000 feet of the ground on the number 47 for one😂 And I’ve certainly never seen an in-depth safety demonstration on a Lothian Bus, complete with lifesaving equipment. Just no, and also-way to invalidate my anxiety, Susan…but that’s a whole other article!
I was flying to London for a ‘Love Yourself’ style photo-shoot with photographer Flo Westbrook as part of the Silent Scream project. Also there to meet me was Maria Alfieri, who is collating the anthology, and some of the other Silent Scream collaborators. As well as providing potential images for the book, the shoot was designed to be part of the journey and process of the Silent Scream project itself. I was so excited having checked out Flo’s work prior to going down ( http://www.flotography.co.uk/ ) and also to finally meet Maria, whom I’d been communicating through email and messenger with for months but had yet to meet in person.
It was certainly worth every second of the 2 AND A HALF HOURS I spent on the tarmac waiting for take-off. “A technical fault on the aircraft”-the words every nervous flier longs to hear! Not only that, but I happened to be sitting in front of some stewardesses due to join a connecting flight down in London, and I had the pleasure of hearing the crew of our plane explaining that, rather than some trivial fault with a light on the flight deck or a problem with the toilet door as i was consoling myself this ‘technical fault’ might be, the engineers had been called out to work on “the tail of the plane. Quote “the rudder, the bit that stabilises the plane, is not working as it should”. So typical, but pleased to say I managed not to go into full panic mode, I only sent maybe one or two SOS messages to friends and family and I stayed on the plane despite having the opportunity to get off due to the long wait.
The experience of meeting some of the Silent Scream project ‘team’ and an afternoon spent exploring the big City was more than worth the anxiety and disruption though, and it least it gave me a good story! I think it will be one of my favourite experiences of the year. I can’t wait to see the photos, and hopefully catch up with some of the people from the day sometime around the Silent Scream publication date. So much came up for me during this experience, I could write several posts about it all-and I probably will! As I had time to reflect waiting for take-off, I thought a lot around the theme of trust.
I calmed my anxiety during my February challenge by reminding myself to trust in my own ability to keep myself safe. For this challenge i acknowledged a lot of the day was spent surrendering to trust in other people, and a lot of my fear could be removed simply by doing so. Even down to the huge sense of anxiety I had all the day before around whether I would make it to the airport on time- it really wasn’t a productive or helpful use of my time to worry about this- I had booked my taxi, worked out all the necessary timings and details, set my alarm in plenty time. All that I had to do was trust the taxi driver would arrive in time and I should have been set. Part of the relaxing around flying is also about surrendering to trust. you have to trust the pilot, the engineers, those who designed the plane… a whole plethora of other people involved in a complex process which you yourself don’t full comprehend. I still feel like it’s so unnatural to be up in the air thousands of feet in a pressured container basically!! It’s a bit beyond me how it all works, which is a scary thing in itself.
Learning that I have a lot of work to do around trust and vulnerability, lucky for me I have a whole nine months left of the ‘Year of No Fear’ to really get to grips with it! Hip Hip Hooray! 🙂