I'm not afraid of flying - even though that might be the craziest thing a normal human does - to go so fast and be so high.
When I rode a small fishing/working boat six miles into the Atlantic from the west coast of Scotland to visit the Isle of Staffa, I wasn't afraid. Despite the rough sea splashing into the boat, the wind, and the cold, I felt more invigorated than fearful.
But riding as a passenger on a two-lane twisting highway in dense fog on a very dark night terrifies me.
I have anxiety dreams before I travel. More than once I've dreamed of not having my passport once I get to the airport, or not having packed in time and hurriedly throwing things into a bag and forgetting cell phone charger or money and credit cards. I'm nervous about being late and missing a flight or a train. But the real dangers of travel, the things that could actually hurt me, don't worry me at all.
I think it must have something to do with responsibility and being at fault. If a plane crashes, there is no way that I am responsible (no way that I can imagine). But if we miss a flight because I miscalculated the amount of time needed for the drive (which has almost happened), or if we miss a train because I left the tickets on the coffee table (which has also almost happened) then that responsibility is mine. And the repercussions and consequences of those errors, while not serious in a life-threatening way, would be really frustrating.
On one leg of our return flights from the Olympic National Park earlier this week, after a (for me) stressful morning of being a passenger and navigator for the three-hour drive to SEA-TAC, Brian commented that it is somewhat amazing that I travel at all considering how much anxiety it causes me. But the anxiety isn't really from the travel. I was actually pretty calm at that moment. Our flight left on schedule; the sky was clear; and we had a long layover at the next airport. That's when I realized -
Of course I should travel. The anxiety of responsibility weights on me at home too. Why not add in the good moments that travel affords.
Here, now, at home, mid-morning on a Friday when I don't have to be at work until 1pm, how high is my anxiety level? It feels pretty low, but that's because the pressures of employment, social life, paying bills, caring for the house, etc, don't seem so pressing. They are there however, and often something unexpected brings all such worries to the forefront.
I think I would rather head out and drive into the anxiety in search of the wonder of being in new and different places than just wait here for the anxiety to trouble me.