What is the meaning of life? I get to ask this question to others on a regular basis, especially since I’ve been traveling the world with my one woman show called “The Search”, where I share with others how to become explorers to the meaning of life through my original songs and short films.
For me, the meaning of life is to connect with others, for it is connection that centers us to connect to the self that mirrors our Higher Power. It is why I love to fly. I love meeting new people in the airport, on the plane, hearing their stories and being surprised by the dozens of answers I’ve received on what so many think the meaning of life is. My favorite answer up to date has been- “I believe the meaning of life is that we are aliens flown onto earth from another planet and our job is to wait for the spaceship to arrive and take us back to our real one.” See? Great material happens in airports. But I didn’t always LOVE flying. Infact I HATED IT- like worse than we all hate Mackelmore right now.
Lets discuss my fears with flying for a second, shall we?
I was about 25 years old when my husband and I jetted off to Miami for a little romantic getaway. As the flight took off, the plane hit about 13,000 feet when it suddenly began falling out of the sky. I am serious, we were taking a nose dive at four jillion miles per hour and my husband, in his calm voice, because he thinks he’s all that, and because he thinks it would be sexy to die in an airplane crash, mockingly yelled out “Grab your oxygen masks!” He was laughing, everyone else started wailing. There were no oxygen masks. But if there were, I would have smacked him upside the head with it. I of course was a wreck, screaming, crying, heaving, and picturing my body splatted on the ground with my wedding ring broken in three places. Suddenly the plane leveled off and the pilot got on the loud speaker and uttered these words no amount of therapy or alcohol will allow me to forget-
“Sorry Folks, it appears there was another plane in our path that did not come up on the radar, so we had no choice but to drop 6,000 feet to dodge it.”
WTF? Are you serious? What the hell was going on in air traffic control? What?? Were they redecorating their bedroom, ordering pizza during a Zombie attack, smelling their armpits? What exactly would have been the reason another AIRPLANE failed to come up on our radar? SO it was at that moment I decided never to trust air traffic control again. This made flying very unbearable. Unless I was willing to spend an extra few hundred bucks on alcoholic beverages like mojitos, bloody maries, pisco sours or Cuba Libres, I needed to get my shit together if I was going to travel.
I had tried everything. But every time I’d get near an airport that sinking feeling would come over me, like mad anxiety that landed me with the runs, profuse sweating and an enormous need to search for airplane personnel so they could storyboard their four thousand flights they’ve taken without incident. I tried Xanax and sleeping aids, which helped once I got on the flight, but it was the several hours before that was really bad. I mean you can’t exactly be a walking sleeping zombie while you pack for New York, check in to the airport, or search for your gate.
Then 9-11 happened, and well I had resigned myself to never really fly again. Cause now it wasn’t just air traffic control I couldn’t trust, it was passengers, their luggage AND their shoes. I was so screwed because I really loved to travel and see new places and of course meet new people but my fear had crippled me.
It wasn’t until the amazing fateful night my husband and I went to our kid’s annual school gala that all of it changed forever. It was in this really swanky nightclub. The lights were really dim, the tequila was free and my friend decided to push me on the stage and volunteer me to be hypnotized by the worst hypnotist they hired to entertain all of the parents. Of course, I wasn’t worried, because no one has ever been able to hypnotize me before. Who cares that the room was filled with clergy, teachers and parents- I’d be safe all I had to do was play a long. Did I mention the lights were dim and I had downed a few shots of tequila? Ya- so apparently if they were giving out Oscars for best hypnotized volunteer, I would have won it. Only I wasn’t acting, I was REALLY under the hypnotist’s trance. I honestly don’t remember much from that evening, but I am told I danced like Lady Gaga, stole someone’s red scarf and spoke like an Alien. When I awoke from my deep sleep, the very sleep that the hypnotist mentioned he had never seen anyone respond as well as I had, I was ONE HOT MESS. I was feeling a lot of anxiety and frustration and I felt a little nauseous too. My husband was really annoyed. “Look I brought my wife here to have a good time, if I wanted her to go home pissed off, I would do that to her myself, fix her.” So in an effort to make me feel at peace, and so that he would avoid getting slugged by Robbie, the hypnotist asked me if there was anything I would really like to be fixed in my psyche. To which I said- OH do you have a few months? To which he then said, no we have 5 minutes. So I chose the one fear that had crippled
my traveling, the fear of flying. He put me under in a trance and when I awoke all I felt was relaxed and really thirsty. He swore that I would never ever be afraid to fly again. He told me that not only would I never be afraid, I’d actually be excited to get to the airport. And he also assured me that I’d never get the runs at the check in line again. Clearly he was an idiot.
Of course I didn’t believe him. ‘Cause I don’t trust air traffic control, passengers, luggage and now hypnotists.
But about a month later I was invited to accompany a friend who was seriously afraid of flying to San Francisco. She was so scared she promised me she’d pack enough Xanax to feed us both and four elephants. She was convinced going with another fearful person would make her less afraid. Something about two negatives equaling a positive. I pulled up to the airport and she kept checking in with me- “How are you feeling? Do you have to go to the bathroom?” Surprisingly I felt fine, like I was just stopping at a regular check in counter at a regular hang out where regular people stood. No sweats, no cramps, no nerves, it was REALLY weird and really awesome, yet I was still thirsty. I did my usual routine and looked for a pilot who told me it was perfectly normal to experience a little turbulence and to imagine we were flying on water, because air and water are similar. (ya right) He then finished his reassurance by telling me that his wife’s best friend died in a plane crash and when they found the wreckage her wedding ring had been found broken in three places- oh and there were no survivors. Hmm, funny I didn’t feel even a tinge of nerves at that moment either. It was like I was Superwoman. Like I was wearing titanium and nothing could get to me, not even the Pilot’s plane crash story.
The truth is, this story is not really about my fear of airplanes, but my overcoming the fear of life. Sometimes we get so crippled by past experiences that we just assume not ever take off. We just assume to never fly past what we think we are capable of. We stay stuck in our irrational thinking, we blame others for our downfall, most of all, we refuse to even get on that dance floor and allow some man sporting a sparkly shirt to shake things up. When I got pushed to volunteer to be hypnotized, I realized what really happened to me that day, was that I allowed myself to open up to new possibilities of thinking differently. I allowed my imagination to reinvent a new story so that traveling wouldn’t be so impossible, mostly I allowed my imagination to fly and I have been taking off ever since.
Now I have flown dozens of times and each time, I realize that every moment that I allow myself to embark on the adventure, I take away my fear’s power. I get to meet people all over the world and for the first time, I don’t have a bone to pick with air traffic control. But I am really annoyed by passengers who don’t wear deodorant. Now that’s just wrong.
The bottom line is, if you can’t beat your fear- down a few shots of tequila and then get it hypnotized out of you. Oh and make sure to pack travel lavender spray- incase you wind up sitting next to someone who likes goin all “natural”.