Fear of flying

There are so many things running through my head at the moment, little snippets of this and that, bits of images, pixels of memories. It’s like seeing a movie fast-forwarded, two hours compressed into just a few seconds. I’m not sure why that happens, or what it means. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything, it’s just some chemical surge or … shit just happens.

I do tend to overthink things at times, trying hard to make meaning out of random things pushed together. I am a chaotic thinker, I suppose. Throw everything up in the air and see how it all lands, what sticks together, what falls apart, and make meaning out of the product. Meaning is art. Art is meaningful, because it allows you to see things from another perspective, as the artist saw it in the creation.

When I see things from someone else’s perspective, what meaning is gathered does not end with the singular viewing. If the experience is deep enough, profound enough, or simply touches me significantly the meaning I derive continues for hours, days, weeks, months. There are little bits of things from quite a while ago that I remember like yesterday, and still experience the insight, the clarity, the meaning on progressively deeper levels.

Obviously, some of that progression happens for me quite a lot with incidents and experiences from my family of origin, from childhood or sometime in the past. Those are not always pleasant memories, but they shape me in some bizarre way. Consequently, I no longer want to lose those. They are part of who I am and how I am. I suppose that is as it should be.

This morning I was outside with the dog, and struck by the absolute beauty of the day. Yesterday was a bit cloudy and there were formidable storms very near. We didn’t get a downpour here, but I could fee the air pressure had dropped and the humidity had risen, so things felt a bit heavy. Today, however, there is not a cloud in the sky, and it’s a good deal cooler than yesterday. The sky is a beautiful shade of blue, and there’s a stillness to the air.

Weather forecasts until late last night called for continuous rain and storms, but Mother Nature had other ideas for today. As I said, it is gorgeous outside. So why am I disappointed? The forecast said rain and storms, but that’s not what happened. My occasionally rational mind says go with it, appreciate the beauty of the day and do something nice with it. My fatalistic mind says you can’t count on anything, people are sometimes wrong and you have to watch out for that and be cautious about who you trust.
My fatalistic mind is sometimes a pain in the ass.

Disappointment is just the intersection of my expectations with reality. It would seem to me that I shouldn’t ever be truly disappointed if I am living in the present moment, keeping my feet on the ground, not trying to revise yesterday or foretell tomorrow. In actuality, what can truly be disappointing about the present moment? Fatalistic mind says well, you can be disappointed if you are sick or suffering in some way, but rational mind says but you are not sick or suffering at this moment, so please shut up.

The sun is shining. My dog got to hook up with her boyfriend and received plenty of good loving from him. He was glad to see her, and vice versa. Moments before he came into view, she had started whining and barking, and I thought it was about some activity at the building across from the activity area. But, it was him. She has a good sense of smell, and she apparently smelled or sensed him getting closer, so she reacted before I knew what was going on. He said he heard her from a good distance away, and that made him smile.

I suppose that’s really all we’ve got – a smile in a moment of time, a snapshot that’s erased in the next second. The reality of that moment is not the reality of this one. Whatever my experiences are today will mean that I am not exactly the same person I was yesterday. The big chunks remain the same, but the amalgam varies just a bit and things are thrown together again to see what comes together and what doesn’t. I suppose every moment is the creation of a new world, the Universe is created anew every moment of every day. That only means the possibilities are infinite.

If that is the case, we are limited by our perspective and how tightly that is bound to our experience. That’s where I need the most work. My experience and my past tend to speak loudly and constantly, and I fear that limits me. That realization is where the battle rages between my rational mind and my fatalistic mind. I could more accurately label that hopeful and optimistic mind and pessimistic mind, or rational mind and irrational mind.

It’s irrational to assume the worst. Even if the worst has come of similar experience, it’s still rational to presume that what has not happened yet will be the same as similar circumstances in the past. I suppose I would need to be open to possibility again in every second, every minute. Not sure if I can switch gears quite that fast, but I will settle for daily.

I am still watching the volcano in Iceland, but also the bald eagle nest in Alaska. The eaglet is huge, but still doesn’t have all their feathers and is only just now beginning to stand and walk without falling over. Their feet are adult-sized, which is hilarious because they are so huge and resemble clown feet on a human. The feet are also bright yellow, which just makes it seem even more comical.

The thing I’ve learned about the bald eagle is the white head feathers do not come until the bird is about five years old, and the will have other dark coloring until they are about that age as well. In the wild, they can live 20-30 years without interference. Females are about a third larger than males, which also makes me giggle just a bit. They have no sense of smell to speak of, but their eyesight is the sharpest and longest of most birds. Their talons are formidable instruments of death, needle sharp and sharp-edged. I pity the rabbit or rodent that is attacked by one of these predators.

There’s a rescue and rehabilitation organization in Utah that has a lot of videos out there on YouTube, showing them capturing wounded or sick birds, rehabilitating them when possible, and then releasing them back into the wild. The rehabilitation is sometimes touch and go, but when they can be healed the birds are eager to be released. Seeing them catch air currents and lifting back into the sky is exciting, even on video. Every once in a while, though, once released they fly only a short distance and come down, remaining stationary for sometimes hours. The rehabilitator says at times, they need a minute to figure out WTF JUST HAPPENED AND WHERE THE HELL AM I?

I can relate to WTF just happened and WHERE the hell am I. Frequently, I’m searching for those answers. My innards are saying WTF just happened is in the past, and where the hell you are is right here. Hmmm. The past is the past and cannot be edited, although we do need to know what the hell happened. As long as we aren’t trying to change it or have a do-over, I guess that’s OK. I do not want to be doomed to repeat it if I forget it.

Today, I am not quite so much paralyzed by the past as I have been, but still don’t have a clear view of that wide open sky. I keep my head down too much so my vision is usually focused on my feet. That’s not a terribly profound perspective, and doesn’t lend itself to optimism. The view doesn’t change much, which is rather boring and uninspiring. Years ago, when I was moving away from home, I got very clear messages to keep my head up and look to the sky. I should focus on a return to that.

A wide open sky, particularly on a day like today with not a cloud, seems to have its own message. Why am I not flying? What is my fear? Am I afraid to soar, afraid that if I leap the net will not appear? Do I simply lack faith? I have no answer to such questions, only more questions. Asking questions is largely nonproductive at this point. I got so much to do, I ain’t got much time. (“Hold On” – Alabama Shakes)

It has always been difficult for me to articulate what it is that I want. I have little pieces of vision, but no peripheral. I have the frame of the puzzle but the inside pieces are in a jumble. Chaos. I work in chaos, and I know that’s valid. Even chaos has to have some starting point, though; perhaps I am already on the journey.

I once thought recreating myself was a bad thing, a sign of failure. I’m no longer sure about that, and have been told on a couple of occasions that recreating oneself is the sign of renaissance, of rebirth, of simply attaining more information. I want to be untethered, I think. I have always felt tied down, trapped in someone else’s matrix and design. I really don’t feel as though I have much time, although truth be told, I don’t think anyone has very much time. Anyone can fall asleep in their own bed and wake up at the bottom of a sinkhole, or under the 10 concrete floors that were once above them. Life is short. For everyone.

Sometimes I hear myself saying things out of habit, or because they seem to fit nicely into a binary of right vs. wrong, black vs. white, yes vs. no. I suppose that’s not good enough any longer, because I am shown on a daily basis that everything is full of nuance and choice. Every choice I make changes the dynamic of how I fit into the world. There is nothing static, and nothing lasts forever. This I know, but it’s not a comfortable thing.

Right this minute, I am feeling as though I would do well to make every choice an intentional one, rather than merely reactive. There are so many things out of my control, and that is a challenge for this scary human. By contrast, I want to be one of the things outside of everyone else’s control, which means that I need to be in control of myself, the master of my fate, the captain of my destiny and all that stuff. More practically, my choices should be my own, and I should know why I am making them.

I just came from a 12-step meeting, in person, and it was kind of nice. It was good to be with people with whom I share a common experience. There was a newcomer who showed up on Zoom, and she was way out in left field. She blurted out a couple of times while other people were speaking, and I muted her. The second time I muted her, I don’t think she was aware that she was muted and I could see her on the screen talking for several minutes. She disconnected, came back, then disconnected again – in more ways than electronically.

I know how it feels to be that disconnected, and never want to feel that way again. I want to be tuned in, connected to life, connected to other people. My big challenge is to stay connected to myself, stay in my body and not out in la-la land.

Life is very much like an amusement park, and I should not eat too much cotton candy or have too many caramel apples or I’ll be sick when things get exciting. We all have to keep our arms and legs inside the car until the ride comes to a complete stop. Sometimes you have to stand in line for the next ride, and the popular ride you were looking forward to is shut down. There’s still a lot to do, though, and a lot to see. Step right up.

Take your chances.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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