Fear of the Unknown

Fear of the Unknown

2014 has seen some truly tragic occurrences befall those choosing to travel by plane. From the eerie disappearance of MH370 earlier in the year, to the two separate crashes of passenger jets in both Taiwan and Algiers, not to mention the recent tragedy of MH17 being shot down over the Ukraine, the last few months have done nothing to abate the fears of those who hate flying. Of course any part of our day-to-day existence can be fraught with life or death situations but few of those have come under the media’s microscope of late as much as taking to the skies.

Preparing to depart our golden shores in the coming months for damper pastures on the other side of the world, I myself felt a tiny trickle of apprehension when booking my upcoming flights – apprehension which was completely unfounded, but refused to budge nonetheless. And while I can’t argue with the statistics – the chances of dying in a plane crash is 1 in 11 million when compared to cancer, car accident, drowning and murder – after the recent spate of air disasters, I sometimes can’t help but give into the nervous old woman who resides inside me.

Unfortunately for my fears (and others with itchy feet and empty wallets), flying is by far the easiest and most cost effective way to travel vast distances, unless you’re partial to a drawn-out sea voyage or open to the possibility of teleportation. As a result, overcoming this fear of soaring majestically through the clouds is somewhat imperative in any hobo’s life regardless of what is currently being reported on the news.

It’s not that I don’t trust the pilot’s ability to navigate me in relative comfort from point A to point London, it’s more that I have an unrelenting fear of the unknown. A consistent nagging of “What if?” as I put my seat in the upright position and get comfy in my plane socks. Even though the likelihood of coming to a demise while onboard an aircraft is low, the devastating loss of lives during recent events still allows the black hole of “What if?” questions to suck all surrounding logic out of my cranium.

That’s the thing about travel; all aspects of it are concurrent with the unknown, and while putting your life in the hands of a pilot who takes you to a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet may make you feel a little squeamish, the fear of the unfamiliar that is associated with leaving your home soil is inherent in all varieties of travel. From the realistic: What if I don’t make any friends travelling alone? What if I get mugged at knifepoint? To the not so realistic: What if I get caught up in a human trafficking ring and Liam Neeson is too busy working to come find me? What if I stay away from home so long all my friends forget me?

Given our over-active imaginations and inability to conjure the exact experience we are going to have, our brains have a tendency to kick into overdrive imagining what could/should/might happen and whether it’s tangible or not, fear of the unknown is going to come up at some point. However, it’s how you deal with these fears that will ultimately determine the kind of adventure you have. So before you start giving into the paranoia perpetrated by the media and your own imagination, take a moment to stop and focus your perspective onto something else. Instead of contemplating what might go wrong, start conjuring images of what will go right. Fear of boarding that plane can translate into all fears encountered on the road and not only because of the recent tragedies that have played out across our TV screens. But that’s the very essence of setting out; you can’t know what’s going to happen any more than you could change it if you did, and I for one wouldn’t have it any other way.

Rowan still hasn’t finished War & Peace, but she did use it to balance her dinner once. Living in London, she’s steadily working her way through the Europe’s great cities and hopes to try every wine in England before her visa expires.