x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Rekindling a past love of flying

Countless possibilities for discovering every corner of the globe await me, except there is just one teeny tiny problem: I'm petrified of flying.

Although it is still early in the year, people are already talking about their grand plans for the summer holiday season. Road trips, adventure, relaxing and exploring are all words being thrown into the air. Countless possibilities for discovering every corner of the globe are awaiting them and I feel exactly the same way, except there is just one teeny, tiny problem. I hate to fly. OK, let me rephrase that - I'm petrified of flying.

Most of my family and friends are scattered across the world, so it puts a real damper on plans to see them and I don't want to be known as the armchair traveller, you know, the type who scans through travel websites and magazines talking about how "one day" they will go there. So, last weekend I decided to do something about it.

My earliest memories of flying are actually positive. I remember a time when my older sister and I would be on a plane with my mum and brothers, seeing the whole thing as an adventure. In all the excitement, we would get our colouring books out and even add to our collection when the flight attendant passed through the aisles to hand out extra crayons and paper filled with different patterns to all the kids on board. What can I say - I was just a kid.

Today, I want that feeling of excitement to replace the dread that descends whenever I am boarding a plane.

I believe in investing in self-development, so in order to understand exactly what and how it all went drastically wrong, I went to see a psychologist friend of mine to get her advice.

She asked me to visit her Dubai office. I expected a brightly lit room complete with a couch (blame television) and maybe a couple of chairs, and was unsure of how comfortable I would feel in such rigid surroundings. To my relief, however, the room was incredibly cosy and dimly lit. The chairs, placed in the centre of the room, were covered in throws, making the room abundant with warm tones. And so we began talking.

After the session, she gave me breathing and meditation exercises to do daily until our next appointment. On the way home, I got to thinking about the earliest memory I had of being conscious of the possible dangers of flying. I was 10 and we were flying to Sudan on a European airliner when the flight was diverted to Saudi Arabia. We were stuck at the airport for more than 12 hours with a "technical fault" until the plane was fixed.

Another flight I had boarded to Dubai a couple of years ago could not take off because of an "electrical problem" and when the lights started flickering, people demanded to be let off the plane. My fear is internal, so I sat quietly, observing. The captain then announced sternly: "We either take off together, or we exit together." We ended up leaving the aircraft until another plane was sent the following day. And, don't get me started on the impact of watching one of the Discovery Channel's "deadliest air disasters" episodes. Seriously, what was I thinking?

Anyway, I may not be cured, but I have taken the first step. And since it is Valentine's Day soon, I'm determined to fall in love with flying all over again.

melshoush@thenational.ae

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