Fear of Flying

Before the folks my age get too excited, this has nothing to do with the topics discussed in the Erica Jong novel of the 1970’s.

I simply hate to fly. 

In fact, a total of four flights in the past seven days (a trip with a connection necessary in both directions) only confirmed what I already knew…I REALLY hate to fly. What’s important, though, is that I didn’t let it stop me from living my life.

In my latest release, THE HOURGLASS (Etopia Press), character CJ Morrison lives with fear. You’d never know it on the surface. He tackles physically reckless acts, like racecar driving and climbing Mount Everest. CJ’s innermost fears center around love; he’s afraid of hurting someone he loves again, so much that he denies himself the emotion altogether.  This fear prevents CJ from living life to its fullest.

I’ve missed out on a lot in the past because of being afraid, yet on a recent trip to visit my daughter in the Pacific Northwest – Washington State –  I forced my fears aside.  I believed the flight would be the worst thing I had to conquer, but as we discussed a trip going over a place called Deception Pass, I realized my fear of heights would be making a noteworthy appearance, too.

I’d only seen pictures of the tall, narrow bridge going over the rough waters of Deception Pass, which connects Fidalgo Island with Whidbey Island. The pictures alone made my knees quiver.

I-5 Bridge Collapse Mt. Vernon, Washington

I-5 Bridge Collapse Mt. Vernon, Washington

Upon our arrival, we got news which made my body tremble with well-founded  real fears…another bridge nearby had collapsed. A bridge I’d been about to drive over to reach my daughter’s apartment an hour before the road gave way (thank you GPS for sending me a different way).

I was surrounded by islands and bridges for the next seven days! The Deception Pass Bridge was taller than the collapsed bridge, the waters below even more threatening. And we were going to drive over it?

The day of our road trip, we neared the Deception Pass Bridge. That’s when my daughter uttered  words more terrifying to me than Linda Blair’s antics in the The Exorcist. “We can park and walk over this bridge,” she said calmly. “It’s cool.”

Walk? Driving over in the car was horrifying enough. I contemplated the height challenging walk, visualizing myself plunging 180 feet into the whirlpool below. At the risk of sounding neurotic (which I do), here’s a photo of the bridge:

Deception Pass Bridge

Deception Pass Bridge

I’m proud to report that I not only sat calmly during my drive over the suspended roadway, but we parked and I walked all the way across and then back again…with only a little fanfare. Even as I type, though, there’s tenseness bottled up in my throat that didn’t exist before starting this piece. Still, the bottom-line is my fears didn’t stop me. They only nagged me a little. The result was a lovely vacation.

Sometimes we have to step up and face what we’re most afraid of this world. In The Hourglass, facing fears paves the way for both main characters to take advantage of all the joys life has to offer.

Have you stood nose-to-nose with your fears? Pushed them back and did something that made you proud?

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8 responses to “Fear of Flying

  1. Congratulations on facing your fear and traversing the Deception Pass Bridge. I live in Washington State, and I agree – that bridge is daunting. But the area is so beautiful that it’s worth it, isn’t it? I’m glad you enjoyed your visit and didn’t let your fears hold you back.

  2. Sandra, I think the beautiful view off that bridge was the only thing keeping me together. Well worth any stress. In fact, the entire state is more luscious and green than any place i’ve ever been. My daughter will be on Fidalgo Island for another seven months so I hope to make a return trip. Thanks for posting!

  3. What amazing bridges. I would have had to tranquilize my husband.

  4. Lol…yeah, I could have used a tranquilizer.

  5. I used to be really afraid of flying, but when I had to do it a lot for my old job, it became less about fear and more about annoyances. I’m not a big fan of bridges or heights, either. But I think I would prefer walking over one like that rather than driving. I’m not sure why that is. I think maybe I would feel less trapped if the thing did start to collapse. And since they would probably be my last moments on earth might as well have them be hopeful moments. 🙂 So glad you had a good trip. It looks like such a beautiful part of the country.

  6. Thanks, Maura. Yeah, I think if you travel a lot the scare factor disappears. Like speaking in public a lot. At some point, it’s probably a no-brainer but I can’t even imagine that ever happening. I hate public speaking. I also kind of get your point about the running off the bridge thing. Something tells me, either way, we’d be goners 🙂
    Thanks for posting.

  7. I can only imagine the fear you felt after the news stories of that bridge collapse. Congrats for pushing through, facing your fears and driving and walking across that Deception Pass bridge!

    As I get older, facing fears becomes a little more daunting. I try to push the envelope everyday to make sure my fear-facing muscle is in shape. It sounds like you’ve been doing the same.

  8. Hi Kristi,
    That’s a wonderful way to describe it…a fear-facing muscle! Yes, all we can do is make sure it gets a workout. Like with my body, some days are better than others 🙂
    Thanks for posting!

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