by Greg Davis
(Los Angeles CA)
I've always had a fear of flying. Sometimes it's been easier to deal with than other times. As an adult, I've been able to push it to the back of my mind, even forget about it entirely -- almost. Which is a necessity, since my current occupation requires an extensive amount of air travel, sometimes as often as three or four times a month.
So I suppose it's the definition of irony, then, that our uneventful flight was just interrupted by an urgent-sounding announcement from the pilot. Mechanical trouble, diverting to the closest airport. Fasten seatbelts. Stow tray tables. Don't panic. Translation: hope for the best, but expect the worst.
We know in this life there are no guarantees, but it's another thing entirely to be faced directly with this unchangeable fact. To have this truth, and by extension, your mortality laid out in front of you by the professional drone of an airline pilot, his calm demeanor only slightly betrayed by the rapidity of the delivery.
People cried, people prayed, people held onto each other. I was traveling alone, so I held onto my memories, my innermost thoughts, and I felt surprisingly calm as the cabin pressure decreased, as we descended.
Fear of flying had consumed much of my life. But I was surprised that fear of dying did not.