Books · Expatria · Prague · Travel · Women

Fear Of Flying

In 1973 Erica Jong wrote the feminist anthem, Fear Of Flying. The heroine, Isadora, though terrified of flying, boards a plane and her subsequent journey leads to a spiritual and sexual awakening that was the one of the first of its kind in print. Jong’s thesis is that the fear of flying is the fear of independence, of being free, of encompassing all aspects of ourselves as women. Isadora spreads her wings and jumps into her wild life, after boarding an airplane.

I have spent much of my life on airplanes. I’ve resided in 11 countries and visited dozens of others. As a child I wanted to live on KLM or Lufthansa. The delicious plates of food, the little cans of soda, in-flight entertainment, these were moments of childhood pleasure. The excitement of somewhere new just over the horizon, suitcases packed, room for shopping, foreign food to sample.

Every visit to a new place molded my worldview into a universal one, expansive yet encompassing, sometimes harrowing but always interesting. Yet all of the spiritual or astrological readings I’ve ever had has come with the response, “You lack grounding”, followed by advice to garden, put my bare feet in the earth, get my hands dirty. To which I would reply, “Yuck!” and flit off somewhere else.

Now at 31, as my earthy Virgo Rising comes to the fore, my fear of flying emerges with a vengeance.

A move to a new country inspires dread, a plane ride invokes panic attacks, my time up in the air is one long prayer to reach the ground not in a flaming ball of fire. Change gives me insomnia or nightmares.

Isadora never had a chance to live her life fully until we meet her in Fear of Flying. I, on the other hand, have lived many lives already in these three decades. I am shifting away from the sky.

My soul’s roots have made their way through my body, out my feet and have latched on to Prague’s cobblestone streets. I have had my time in the air, exploring corners of the world. My fear of flying signals my time to stay put, my time to understand how it feels to have wings while remaining grounded. At last.

How does the “fear of flying” shape your life?

This blog was inspired by Anastasia Ashman’s blog post, “Being Grounded is Overrated“, which was inspired by Rose Deniz’s “Mapping The Imagination“, which sparked the upcoming Dialogue 2010.

5 thoughts on “Fear Of Flying

  1. Sezin, I find it funny to grow older and develop aspects of myself that I never thought interesting before. Sometimes our roots are down before our mind has had a chance to adjust.
    So nice to talk to you at the weekend!

  2. A beautiful post, Sezin.It’s taken me a couple of decades longer than you to feel rooted, yet with wings, connected without being stuck, still with the possibility of change that does not make my stomach ache. I look forward to our conversation shortly!

    1. Hi Catherine! Thanks so much for commenting and it makes me feel really good to know I’m not the only one going through this. It’s a strange feeling for me, but one that I am slowly coming to fall madly in love with. 🙂 It was wonderful speaking with you on Sunday and looking forward to our next encounter. Big hugs your way xoxo

  3. Dear Sezin,
    Congrats with this well grounded piece. Your words resonate for me, even though our background and experiences are very different. I didn’t see the inside of an airplane until I was eighteen, but move around I did. When I hear of people who’ve lived in the same town, the same neighborhood, sometimes the same house their whole life, I can’t imagine what that might be like. I’ve prided myself in being able to leave at short notice, to travel with ease, to live out of a suitcase; dressing a hotel room with a sari, setting up a small altar that reminds me of people I love and places I wish to remember. My sweetheart and I are both theater people and we’re good at setting up and breaking down, for years we moved from one apartment to the next as though our life was a play. I called myself a wanderer until my feet gave up and my body forced me to stay put.
    Facing my fear to settle down is among the bigger ones I’ve addressed so far. The Dutch “Huisje, boompje, beestje”, or “home, tree and pet” meaning to be settled, was the scariest cliche I knew.
    Like you I was advised to get my hands in the dirt. My Chinese M.D. suggested I’d plant a seed to see how nature worked. I got a small plot and the first months I didn’t do anything but weed. It wasn’t until my sweetheart accompanies me and gently ordered me to put the darn seeds in the ground, that I dared do that. Having a garden was enough of a challenge. It took another eight years before I dared buy property on American soil, first a condo, which enabled us to keep a pet, then we moved into a house with a garden where we planted many trees, and bulbs of daffodils and tulips that reminded me of back home, where I never truly felt at home enough to settle down.
    I hope you’ll overcome the resistance to feeling mud between your toes, and that you’ll experience what it’s like to plant a bulb and see a flower grow.

    1. Dear Judith,

      Thank you for this lovely comment! What you say about dressing up a hotel room with a sari and setting up altars is something I know very well, and I also found a way to make each transitory place a home even if it was just my bedroom or just for a short amount of time. One of my old roomates called me a “turtle”, that I carried my house on my back, and sometimes quite literally. While it is nice to be able to pick up at a moment’s notice, I must say I love the thought of staying put, seeing what life in a place is like past a 5-year mark, feeling how I change and calm down inside.

      It was also great talking with you during Dialogue 2010 and I’ll be keeping tabs on you through your site and our new best friend, Twitter.

      Big hugs to you too,

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