Fear of Flying

I was driving down the road the other day and I saw a tiny house fly hanging onto the outside of my driver side window. His little wings were flapping furiously as he struggled to cling onto the window. I wondered why it was so important for him to hang on – he had wings, he could fly away anytime he wanted. Was there something sweet on my window that he wanted? Had I simply taken him by surprise when I started to move?

I glanced to the other side to change lanes, and when I looked back the fly was no longer there. I didn’t know if he’d left on his own or if the air current had swept him away. For a brief moment I wondered if he would be okay – if he’d survived, and then I gave my head a shake. Of course he would be okay – he had wings and he could fly.

Then I realized this was a good analogy for life as well. Sometimes we cling onto things far longer than we should. We hang onto marriages, friendships, jobs, and even houses, when sometimes it’s better to let go. We hang on out of fear, out of a sense of obligation, out of pride, for financial reasons, and for a plethora of other, personal reasons.

We worry about what will happen if we let go; will we survive? Change is scary! People use the expression “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”, or “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”, but that usually doesn’t justify not taking a chance. We recite those types of quotes to make ourselves feel better about not making life changing (and often scary) decisions. I now know that sometimes it’s better to have no devil at all, and that sometimes even one bird can crap all over you.

Benjamin Disraeli once said “Action may not bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”

We’ve all had those moments when we knew we needed to do something but seemed frozen – like a deer in the headlights. We all want to make the right choices, the right changes, and we’re terrified of making the wrong decision, but even doing nothing is a decision – and it’s the worst possible decision you can make.

In the words of Theodore Roosevelt “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing”.

When I look back through the years, I realize that most changes were thrust upon me – broken relationships, lost jobs, relocations, and many more. There were changes I needed to make but didn’t. I stayed in jobs when a change would have been better for my career. I stayed in relationships long past their best before dates. Hindsight really is 20/20 though isn’t it? I’ve learned that it’s important sometimes to reflect on our lives and decisions and to use that insight to learn and grow.

Napoleon Bonaparte probably said it best when he said “Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action comes, stop thinking and go in”.

Sometimes that means making a decision to let go. To feel the fear and do it anyway. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Maybe we’ll find out that like that tiny fly – we too have wings and we too can fly.

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