Lily is scared of flying. Not so much the short trips to Canada or Florida. It’s the 17-hour transpacific flights that set her on edge. I can’t say I blame her. All those hours, trapped in a metal tube, rebreathing everyone’s stale oxygen. If I let myself, my mind veers toward a claustrophobic panic when contemplating those day-long flights. A few weeks before a big trip, she starts having bad dreams.
So we’ve been talking about fear a lot lately. We’ve discussed where we feel it; pounding heart, fluttery stomach, sweaty palms. We’ve discussed where we don’t feel it; almost never in our earlobes and shins. I’ve divulged my own fears; speaking on the phone, posting these blogs, karaoke. But the real theme of these talks has been using fear. Specificaly why one would turn towards fear rather than away from it.
I assert that fear makes an excellent compass. When given the choice of two decisions, those times I’ve chosen the one that scares me most has always expanded my world. After pushing past fear, dreams come true.
After the long flight, Bhutan!
It’s been a frantic few weeks of organizing our return to Bhutan. Our simplified lifestyle does not protect us from the logistical headaches of a three month trip to Asia. Jen has been researching and putting into motion everything from travel health insurance and long term vehicle storage, to mail cancellation and homeschooling. Just purchasing tickets from Druk Air involves a multi-day email conversation, across a 12 hour time difference, that ends with emailing a credit card number and hoping for the best. The crowning jewel in our pre-trip hysteria came today. As we loaded the duffle bags into the airport van, a call from our volunteer liaison notified us that we would not have hospital housing on arrival. In a country with scant few hotels, all meant for government-approved pacakged tours, this is a major complication.
Why would anyone willingly take on so many headaches and worries? We’ve asked ourselves this a lot lately. It has to be more than simple wanderlust, more than a childhood spent staring at National Geographic and scouring Lonely Planets.
A month ago my friend Jim (recently returned from New Zealand) was on facebook looking for advice on his upcoming trip to Patagonia. There also on facebook was my friend Kindra, hanging out with penguins in Antarctica. And just a bit down the feed was Danny in Iceland.
I’m am certain that each one of those trips had moments of doubt. Little bits of worry and fear. Is this costing too much, what if my flight is delayed and I miss work, who will watch the dogs? I am also certain that not one of these awesome people regret their trip. They went beyond their fear and their world expanded.
And really, what is the alternative? Staying home? Letting our world shrink because we can’t be bothered with the hassle? In our talks about handling fear, Isabelle pointed out that such a path leads “to a house full of cats”.
So that is why Lily boarded a 17 hour flight to Singapore this evening. It’s why Jen said we are going, even though we have no place to stay. And its why I am going to sing out loud the next time I’m in an elevator. Because fear is our broken-ass compass, and its pointing toward adventure.