Beating Fear with a Stick, my book

Fear of Flying

September 24, 2012

Here I am in the air, headed back to Los Angeles from Atlanta. Having internet in the sky is still a novel idea to me and one that makes me feel like a wizard wedged in between 22D and 22F.  I’m a word wizard up here, a magician in the clouds and yet I feel like I have nothing to say. Like I have said it all. Some days are like that. I am a vessel of ideas and words and firecrackers and other days, a body in a chair, a body in the car, a body going through the motions.

So I post on Facebook and say: I’m going to write a post from the plane. What Should  write about? And I acknowledge that I am distracting myself from writing my book. #Distractingmyselffromwritingmybook.

Someone tweets me that I should write about fear of flying and another procrastination.

Procrastination, well I wrote the book on that one, so surely I could write a blog about it. But, fear of flying? I am not scared of flying.

Not anymore.

Or so I thought.

I used to have heart palpations every time I was on a plane and there was turbulence. I thought for sure that my time was up, I was dying, this was it. Then, I started to fly more and more and one day you wake up and that fear is gone. The things we get used to! People dying. People leaving us. Flying! Wi-fi in the air! We can get used to anything.

With time.

I started to think about it as I sat here in my middle seat (which I grumbled about of course, because in my mind I should be flying first class.) I don’t know why I think that but I got offended when they changed my seat and stuck me here in the middle as if they should have known better. Then I got over myself. For the most part. I still don’t like it but I have wi-fi. There’s that.

I am sitting here squashed and thinking about fear of flying and I realize that I am scared still, of heights, of expanding past what I think I am capable of.

I was in Santa Fe a couple weeks ago visiting one of my best friends you’ve heard me talk so much about: the writer Emily Rapp. Now Ms. Rapp is one of the best writers, living or dead, I have come across so when I am around her, well, I feel more like a real writer. Whatever that means. So I am with her in Santa Fe, Emily and her dying son Ronan (he has the incurable Tay-Sachs Disease) and she says something about me being a writer. I can’t remember what but I do remember I said I want to be known as Jen the writer not Jen the yoga teacher.

I realize that. My dharma, my purpose, my calling, whatever hippy dippy or non woo-woo word you want to use for it, well, I am not sure teaching yoga is that for me for me. But who decides?

Does it matter what I am known for?

These are all questions I ask myself as I buckle into my seat and get ready for take-off because you know once you are soaring there is little you can do to change what is behind you. Even though I have spent most of my life thinking I can change the past, and alternately, living there.

Does it matter if I am known, period?

It does if I want to write a best-selling book. So where is it? I write daily. Where is my book? I write blog after blog and some that I really love but my book is the the thing in the sky I am scared of. What if I write it and? There are a million ways to finish that sentence.

What if I can’t finish it?

All the what if’s are like turbulence and here I am up in the air trying to balance a cup of coffee. It keeps spilling and I have to refill.

What if I tell the story of who I am and they see me?

Who is “they”?

The fear of flying is so great that it sometimes keeps us grounded. Wayne Dyer has this great saying which I may butcher but it goes something like: Flight wasn’t discovered by  contemplating the staying on the ground of things.

So why are we so scared of flying?

I think it boils down to death. We are scared we are going to die. We are going to crash. (It feels somehow blasphemous to be writing about crashing and death while sitting on a plane.)

Let’s break it down?

How can I crash with my book?

I can expose myself. I can write a flop. People might hate me.

Okay, there’s that.

So what?

So what?

I need to do it anyway. My calling ( I imagine a deli and a man behind the counter calling my number) is to be a writer. A connector. A communicator. A healer. All of it. So yes, I use yoga to get my people in the room. I also use writing. I use whatever I can, whatever method I can travel by. Sometimes, in NYC, I take the bus. Look, I will get there how I need to get there unless my fear of flying debilitates me so much that I stay locked in my room playing on Facebook.

Why are we scared of success? Why do we need to apologize for it? (Okay, read: me.)

Usually when I saw we I mean me. I can only ever talk about what I know.

This I know: I am here in the sky in a chair and I am ready to tell the story of who I am. I am not scared of this plane crashing oddly enough just of my own light allowing to live the life I want. And why is that scary?

It comes down to worthiness.

I am a writer. I am flying. Look, I haven’t crashed yet. It’s only my fear of it which is keeping me filled with anxiety white fingernails.

Is the fear real?

You tell me.

I will tell you this. All of my fears originate in my mind which is a breeding ground for trouble. I love my mind but i will be damned if I have it control me and my piloting skills.

I am flying this motherf*cking plane.

I am a writer. We are what we say we are.

I am flying.

**Love to hear your thoughts below. Who are you? Where are you scared of flying? Of your own light?

** as a side note, my book agent came to my sold out workshop at Pure Yoga in NYC last week and every person went up to her and told her how excited they were to read my book. There’s that.

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  • Reply Flying Yogini September 24, 2012 at 10:34 am

    for me the fear of flying (as well as the fear about what, where and how I will be in the future) comes from a strong aversion to lack of control. i’m a strong willed scorpio who wants to take charge and rule. when you are strapped in at 32K feet you must surrender to the control of people and things you cannot change. the same goes for whether you will be known as “jen the YT or jen the writer”… both are out of your control.

    so perhaps it is less a fear of flying and more a fear of letting things happen as they are meant to without the ability to control them? it’s a life practice for me.

    loads of love and boo on the middle seat.. no one likes those!

  • Reply Chelle aka Writer Yogi September 24, 2012 at 10:55 am

    I am scared of flying in the sense I am afraid to do it alone. I am afriad to be the only one in the clouds leading the way. Peter pan only I had to leave the lost boys behind this time. I am afriad if I fly alone I wont be able to find my way back. Or I may come crashing down after so many tries without anyone to help me up. I may fall into the ocean and poor tinker bell is too small to get me out. Thats is my fear. The fact I have to fly alone which I have not really done before. Xoxo

  • Reply peckinpah September 24, 2012 at 11:54 am

    You ARE FLYING !
    Great piece of writing.
    Loved it.

  • Reply lori September 24, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    And yet again, Jen bravely puts many of the same thoughts or fears I have to page or to publish in a blog. So flying for me is a fear too, never was until 9/11 happen. But then I still faced the fear and was ok to fly domestically no longer than a 5 hour plane ride that seemed manageable. But I really want to travel more and I can’t go anywhere if I do not board a plane. The places I want to see are so far from my home in Marina del Rey, that means the plane ride is very long. That means I will have to face this fear of being stuck in a small seat (near the emergency exit row, because you get more leg room) for so much of a day, such a hard mental challenge. Just. Sitting. Still. Near Strangers who hopefully are nice and do not smell! I can easily handle strangers smelling in a gym but on a plane, oh that is my worst nightmare.

    Similarly, I dream of being a writer too. I hope to use the time wisely when flying up in the air and just write things down before the wheels of the plane touch the ground. What brings me comfort is listening to my music on my ipod and I tend forget the sounds in my mind that are feeling locked up in a cage. What I like to imagine is that my words, thoughts, or ideas are begging me to “please put them to page.” And I try too. Even if it is only writing a paragraph or two.

    So if I let this fear take over I will never see a new culture or expand my horizons. As you know I am about to embark on the LOOOONGEST “18 hour” plane I have taken in my life, to do yoga with this awesome group of people on a retreat in an Asian island far, far away from Marina del rey. But the coolest thing is that the experience will all be lead by YOU!!! Today I decided to create a mantra to chant or put on auto pilot inside my head to repeat constantly when fear of flying paralyzes me with anxiety and doubt. It goes like this, feel free to join me on mediating to it until you arrive at your chosen destination.

    “F*** You Fear of Flying. I got some writing and yoga to do with a fellow yoga teacher who is this gifted writer too. She will introduce me to some inspiring new people very soon. Traveling the world will make our yoga and writings feel new. If we never faced this fear, something inside us will always feel blue. Without a shadow of a doubt this is something that we must do.” Sending safe travels to my dear friends, colleagues, and family always.

  • Reply lhotsem42 September 24, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Jen, my sweet, sweet, friend~
    Maybe… if ‘we’ let go of the outcome, blissful in the feeling of flight, ever present of the contentment in merely having the opportunity to fly, at all, can we release our fears.
    What can we control (ego) vs. what we can experience during flight? Whenever I head to the airport I am ready for the journey, I never expect to take off or land on time, or even get to my destination that day. I love the adventure, the people, the freshness of a unique experience and I expect to be challenged by the annoyances of my ego trying to control the schedule, my expectations, or the success of the trip. Only when I let go, and become a happy passenger, a smirk always lingering on my face, do I know that I will enjoy the journey, no matter how many or how long the waves of turbulence occur. I wish I could relax into the other parts of my life with the same abandon. That’s the challenge, for me anyway, to embrace letting go of control, like I do when traveling…like flying.
    It is a letting go of permanence, ego, and expectation. We must effort and ease ourselves into soaring. Trust that the air and winds will support us, but flap our wings as hard as we can so at the apex we can let go and enjoy the ride. Let’s appreciate the effort it takes to gain altitude as much as we adore the feeling of gliding through the air; always embracing and learning from the falls out of a nest or the winds changing and falling towards the ground. In the end, it doesn’t really matter where we land.
    I love & miss you! xo, L

  • Reply jamesvincentknowles September 24, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Maybe think of it like this:

    I read something like this morning & it makes so much sense:

    Judas was an angel. Without his good effort & sacrifice & betrayal, what would have happened next? Some don’t believe & that’s okay, but me thinks that’s what that was all about anyway. But there’s a lesson in every legend & myth. I mean, hell, some even believe in faery tales & unicorns & faery dust sprinkles. All these stories help us see something other than we sometimes think they mean.

    Then there are miracles too, ya know. That’s something most of us at times sometimes believe, especially when they happen to us. We miss the point though, when we think like that, that we’re not part of it when it happens, that we’re not the originating source, or connected with it & through it, with the way we think.

    What we believe we become, some say & some say they want to find out. And when we look back we see it’s true for me & you too. So why would we dismiss the miraculous cure & just accept someone else’s truth & why do we not flip it around & consider the fear is the point to look for that which makes us feel up instead of down?

    It seems to me that what we feel & can allow, turns out many times to be exactly what we need. And doing it this way feels a whole lot better, rather than regretting we didn’t because we didn’t believe or even try.

    You see, it makes so much sense that fear is good. It helps us in so many ways we just don’t realize this when we’re in it. But when you think about it, & yes, I believe thinking is good, when we think good feeling things it’s good to think like that, that what feels good is what we’re supposed to do. So really, is it fear that keeps us from finding there are things we thought we ought not, or is fear itself the thing that helps us see something else? About what feels good & what feels best, so we can feel good about what we can indeed do, & allow it, & then just go ahead & allow ourselves to do it.

    That fear of death thing is overrated too, by the way, at least it is for me. Without it, like fear of anything else, what feels good would mean nothing & then what would we be?

    I love to think about living & loving & put those thoughts into how I see life & this world, with my perspective, & with me in it as well. And think about things I can do to help.

    And let me tell ya, there are levels of living & love. And in between each one is another step of fear to get through & a chance you’ll fall down & never get up if you don’t keep going & seeing the mystery of what might be next & allow it to be true.

    And if you take the time, (which IS love, you see?), to just be, instead of trying to force it, which, by now, you’ve no doubt noticed, never works out well anyway. Perhaps fear is a reminder to just let the fear of tumbling down be the reminder to be grateful for the difference between, what feels good & what doesn’t & realize what it means, that no one can take from you loving yourself & what you love doing, not even you, because you already know all this sh*t, and just look, you’re already doing it, and in chair in the sky, for crying out loud, you silly bitch~!

  • Reply Kate September 24, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    That was a great read!! I have a ton of fears just not of flying really, but of the fear of a few other things! Mostly I fear, letting go! Because you lose control when you let go! And right now I am in the mind set that that is a good thing! Keep on writing I love to hear your thoughts!


  • Reply jack6744 September 24, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    You are the amazing yoga teacher writer. Hmm. Like that. Love how you make something out of he thin air (high altitude that is).

  • Reply Jeannette Vargas September 24, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    My fear of Flying is terribly bad I flew to the Midwest theis passed summer, and all these bad thoughts start it the night before. “If the plane crashes, or gets on fire even crashed into a building, ever since 9/11 my fear has increased. After a week of beginn there and gettig back on board to come back home. (Calofornia). HB rised I must of home to the restroom more then 20 times we made it safe. Glad! Once the plains landed now. I’ll be getting prepared to flight out there during the holidays and already feeling this fear..

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