Therapy at 35,000 feet

Kirjoittaja on New Yorkissa varttunut ja Helsingissä naisistunut copywriter.

Dear Mom,

So, I know it’s been a while since my last letter, but, as you know, that’s because I was on vacation in New York. And while it was great to see everyone there, I have never been as happy to see the picturesque city of Vantaa as I was this time.

Why? Because the flight from JFK was the most turbulent I’ve EVER been on. And when I say “turbulent” I mean drinks flying and people screaming “Oh my God, we’re going to die!” And when I say “ever” I mean EVER.

I know what you’re thinking – being killed in a plane crash is about as (un)likely as winning the lottery. But a) I truly believe that one day I might actually win the lottery, and b) screw statistics, careening through the air at 35,000 feet and 600 mph inside a fake metal bird is scary, especially when the fasten seatbelt light comes on. It really isn’t that illogical of a fear when you really think about it. And a lot of people do, considering that around one out of five of us are afraid of flying.

Anyway, the good thing about being up in the clouds is that most of them have a silver lining. And ironically, in this case, actually living through extreme turbulence turned out to be kind of like a crash course (excuse the pun) in exposure therapy.

Exposure therapy is one of the most effective cures for all sorts of phobias, including aviophobia. Basically it involves repeatedly scaring the shit out of you on purpose to the point that you’re so tired of being terrified that you calm down. And let me tell you, it’s exhausting to spend 8 hours scared shitless – especially when you’re traveling with a 3 year-old.

Sitting in my seat holding on to the arm rests for dear life I swore that if we did make it to Helsinki in one piece I would never fly again. But now that I’m here, the opposite is true.

Maybe it was the exposure therapy, maybe it was the five glasses of wine I had once the in-flight drink service resumed, but I’ve been cured!

And what’s more, it turns out that the fear of crashing into the Atlantic Ocean and free alcohol are the perfect ice breaker, because by the time we were over Iceland everyone in row 21 felt like family. Or if not family at least BFFs – best friends in fear.

Now that’s what I call a bon voyage!

Love, Lissu