The plane reached its cruising altitude in a matter of minutes. About an hour into the flight, the first hint of turbulent air hit the wing. We sat in the last row of the plane, so any wind shear or shift, made us a captive of something we could not anticipate. The pilot announced that we should fasten our seat belts because of an unexpected change in the air.
I am not particularly fond of flying and when turbulence hits, I cower in my seat and hold my breath, hoping that the plane finds a place where it is happy. My hands sweat and I grab the handles, close my eyes, and imagine the worst case scenarios in my head. After fifteen minutes, this particular flight found its equilibrium again, the flicker of the seat belt sign disappears, and I sigh, exhaling my anxiety out in the air.
This recent plane excursion prompted a deeper reflection on why I am so pensive when it comes to turbulence in the sky. One word seems to keep coming up again and again.
I am deeply attached to certainty, so the word change instills automatic fear. Resistant to any kind of shift, change thrusts me into tackling what I don’t know. Because my instinctual nature is to plan, I find shifts like a foreign language. My voice knows how to make a sound, but the words struggle to find the proper enunciation. Stumbling, I muddle through, gather myself, and move forward.
People often complain of boredom. I welcome this steady state it because it offers routine, habit, and most important, it solidifies predictability. Despite my attachment to what I know, I realize that it is a unlived life to keep moving forward on a linear path. It really means that I am jogging in place, but lacking the momentum to move forward.
What I need to internalize is the notion that change is the ultimate process of letting go. I lack grace when plans do not move forward as I envisioned.
Being uncomfortable and in the middle of turbulence is where it is. Where I become unattached and actively let go. Change does not have to be a four letter word. It can be a place of actively allowing yourself to move from one moment to the next and learning that it is all temporary and transient. That change is always lurking.
In the quiet and in the chaos. It is the rhythm of turbulence.