Woo hoo! I just finished my final layout for the Ms. Pac-Man challenge.
I live in Hawaii, which means that the closest land-based destination outside of the archipelago is about five hours away. I dread flying across the massive expanse of the Pacific Ocean, with no nearby airports in sight just in case an engine fails or the cabin fills with smoke or the pilot realizes that we have run out of gas or the aircraft overheats or the entire crew comes down with food poisoning or a crazed idiot throws open one of the doors or a sudden storm appears or the plane simply becomes like a Looney Tunes character -- in realizing that it is hovering in midair, it suddenly drops out of the sky.
I'm a reasonably intelligent being (despite the madness you just read in the previous paragraph), and I do understand that this thing called Science keeps the plane up in the sky, but I'm also somewhat of a fatalist and a worrier and a nutcase, so my faith in Science tends to waver when faced with the prospect of being on a plane.
Still, even though that fear takes hold of my mind, I won't let it rule me. I want to travel, and I will. I don't want to be that person who won't let herself experience life because of the daunting What If.
So I get on the plane. I pray. I study the flight crew's expressions. I hold my husband's hand and bury my face in his shoulder. I shake my head at my daughter, who thinks flying is "fun." I pretty much dehydrate myself, so that I won't have to get up to use the restroom mid-flight, drinking water only during the last hour. I try to sleep, though that's impossible for me (why can't I sleep upright? WHY?). I settle for controlling my breathing. Noise cancellation headphones help -- a lot -- even though the playlist that my daughter made for me for our recent trip has led me to notice that way too many songs contain the words "crash" and "burn."
Even though I'm sure that I'll always be afraid of flying, I'm going to keep flying. I will do the thing that scares me, because on the other side of that is wonder and discovery and learning and growth. Dealing with my fear is the only way I'll learn to be brave.