>> Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Kathy said: I have a question. My co-worker is afraid of flying, so much so that he has to take medication to get on a plane and is a wreck the whole time he's in the air. But this weekend he jumped out a plane. Granted, he did do it to celebrate his birthday and gave a jump gift to his mother for Mother's Day. She went too. How is it that someone so deathly afraid of flying stepped out into the abyss, given that the only thing between him and death is a strong piece of nylon cord?
Great question, Kathy! My reaction is much like yours, but I’m deathly afraid of (a) heights and (b) free fall. Flying doesn’t scare me, per se, though I dislike the loss of control I have in the situation.
However fear of flying isn’t necessarily a fear of heights or falling. It might be a fear of terrorism or a fear of being closed in (claustrophobia). It might be a fear/dread of motion sickness. It might be a fear of crashing or an inability to deal with someone else in controlling one’s fate.
Skydiving might not frighten a claustrophic at all or it might empower someone afraid of giving up control. Because of it’s nature, the fear of crashing or terrorism might not be a feature.
But, more than that, it might be a result of determining to confront and overcome a fear. Which doesn’t mean he wasn’t scared spitless with the skydiving (I have no idea if he was or not), but might mean that he wasn’t going to let that fear stop him from experiencing something truly exhilarating.
I am speculating, however. I am much more afraid of skydiving than I could ever be of flying. I can’t imagine willingly jumping from a perfectly good plane and I’m not sure I could manage it in a plane that was perhaps on fire or disintegrating. And I sincerely hope I never find out.