Are You Afraid of Flying?

Here I am in the air, headed back to Los Angeles from Atlanta. Having internet in the sky is still novel to me and makes me feel like a wizard.  

I'm a word wizard up here, a magician in the clouds, and yet I feel like I have nothing to say. Like I've said it all. 

Some days 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 I write about? And acknowledge that I am distracting myself from writing my book. #Distractingmyselffromwritingmybook.

Someone tweets at me that I should write about the fear of flying.

Procrastination, well I wrote the book on that one, so surely I could write a blog post 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 ifs 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.

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About the Author

Jen Pastiloff travels the world with her signature Manifestation Yoga: On Being Human workshop/retreat. Featured in New York Magazine, Oprah.com & Good Morning America & published on Salon, Jezebel, The Rumpus, etc. Next Manifestation retreat: Labor Day & New Years in Ojai, Calif. Attend a workshop in your city by visiting jenniferpastiloff.com. Upcoming: South Dakota, Atlanta, Seattle, Miami & Dallas.

Jen is the founder of The Manifest-Station. On Facebook, Twitter & Instagram @jenpastiloff .

Jen does an annual retreat every year at Kripalu, guest speaker at Canyon Ranch & does 2 workshops a year in London.

All workshops listed here. The Manifestation Yoga® Workshop is an experience about life: unpredictable, sometimes messy, beautiful, human. Jen is currently finishing her first book called Beauty Hunting. Jen & author Lidia Yuknavitch (author of The Chronology of Water) are doing a Writing + The Body Retreat in Ojai this winter.

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