b'final mattersHow to Overcome aCrippling Fear of FlyingStep 1: Get hit by a semi-truck.BY SARA COURTNEYA re you afraid of flying? I dont meantoing acrosshaving no control in a plane, because afraidofturbulence.WhoisntthelanesI experienced having no control on the afraid of bouncing around wildlyintoan- ground.Thatsemi-truckknockedall whileyourseatmateholdstheirothercar,the fears out of me and replaced them hotcoffeeperilouslyclosetowhere I camewith acceptance. One moment you are your laptop? I mean, are yourestandin control, the next you are a slingshot! filledwithpureterroratwatchedtheLife is precious, but also precarious. It the idea of getting into a metal tube and hurtlingsemi-truck changes in a moment. An instant. A throughthesky?Iamaddressingthoseofyouagasolineblip! And thenpancake.whoknowwhichseatsaresafest;youactuallytanker that re- Noamountofsafetystatscould read the flight safety card; you count how far yourCredit: Vecteezy.com minded me ofmake me understand that in life, it is seat is from the Exit Row just in case; you quietlytheonefromvery hard to learn to let go. To trust research the cost of train or bus tickets, weighing the daysandhoursspentThelmaandLouisethatexplodesyour life, or your safety, or your heart, with a stranger, versus a few hours in the sky. What is wrong with us, peopleslide sideways towards my tiny car. to another person. But it is the surren-ask? Its practically the safest way to get around! These are simply well-adjustedItstruewhattheysay.Timere- der that brings peace. You can get over folks trying to apply logic to our irrational anxieties. What do they know, besidesally does slow down. When I couldntyourfearoflosingcontrolonceyou safety statistics and data analysis and their friend who is a pilot? We have emo- undo my seat belt, I simply sat andunderstand how little control you have tions to go on, thank you very much, and we will be ruled by them whether wewaited for it. Oh so this is it. Im go- in the first place.like it or not. ing to be a pancake. My kids are go- Life comes at you fast. Sometimes, My mom was afraid of flying. Shed grip the arm rests, and any slight bumping to talk about me in the past tense.semi-truck fast. Forgive your anxieties would lead to an outburst of OH NO! ITS HAPPENING! Every journey wasThere was no death grip on the arm-the big and the small, the ones that THE WORST FLIGHT EVER. Every landing NEARLY DIDNT MAKE IT. rests. I just waited until, as if by somecontrol you, and the ones you fight to Then something terrible happened. My brother, who studied physics, sud- divine intervention, the giant wheelscontroland try to let go. If I can do denly and inexplicably became afraid of flying. His fear led me to question thestopped at my door. it, trust me, you can too. And heyentire enterprise. I decided watching a movie mid-flight was a waste of time thatA few weeks after, I had a turbulenthave you read the safety stats? Its prob-would be better spent imagining scenarios of falling out of the sky. Thus, whileflight to Denver and barely shrugged.ably going to be okay. my brother got over his fear of flying after a few short years, the terror, like aA second flight was uneventful untilSaraCourtneyisawriterliv-virus passed from one person to the next, was something I just couldnt shake. thelanding,whentheplanebeganinginMaplewood.Hermom For a while, I traveled the country by train. Train! Days of strangers and po- shaking before accelerating sharply upworkedatBoeingfordecades. tato chip crumbs and the great open plains (why is there so much flat land?) andinto the sky. The pilot, who no doubt not being able to crack open a windowthis is where my anxiety led me. Evenjust saved our lives, explained the run-in the depths of my terror, I knew this was not practical. way had not been properly cleared. He I carried on in this completely sane manner for 20 years, and I probablysounded like an annoyed dad who lost would have gone 20 more like this, if not for an Unexpected Event: I was hithis parking spot.by a semi-truck. Amazingly,Iwasntafraid.After Its a strange thing, to go about your day, thinking unimportant thoughts,all this time, the fear I had was not mulling over a list of errands, and suddenly, in a moment, have those same blandof flying in a metal tube in the sky. thoughts nearly be your last. There I was, getting ready to exit the highway, andIt was a fear of having no control. A then suddenly, a horrible crunching sound, a moment of confusion, and there Idread of letting go. The anxiety that went. I knew there had been a semi behind me in the next lane, barreling downcomes from trusting someone to care fast in my rearview. It hit the left side of the back of my car, sending me careen- for you. I knew now I could acceptLife comes at you fast. The author and her youngest child.42/ matters magazine / winter 2023'