Comfort Zone

On Monday, I took a trip to Arkansas on a private plane doing a commercial shoot for a client. I was only back in Tampa for a few days since the Ireland trip so I hadn’t really even had time to settle back at home yet.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a reluctant flyer and going on such a trip is every unusual for me. But needs must, and the client’s needs superseded my own, so it wasn’t really much of a decision.

It was an early morning start from Tampa and with two pilots at the helm and me the only passenger on board, we took off at six as the skies were just beginning to gain definition behind us.

The plane was quite gorgeously equipped inside and I felt very much like someone of importance as we took off. There was an underlying unease that stole my ability to relax and others would have enjoyed the experience much more than I.

As the skies brightened, there was a lot to see along the way and this muted my anxieties some as the clear skies at 20,000 ft gave me an ever-changing landscape below. Here is one of the shots I took on the way out showing how early morning fog gripped the river beneath us. Never seen that before!

Flying back on Tuesday evening changed the parameters of the journey for me inasmuch as this time it was a night flight and it would just be me and one pilot.

Of course, the thought running through my mind when hearing this is “what if we are in the air, he dies of a sudden heart attack?” then I am all alone at 29,000 ft in the dark and I have never even played a flight simulator game.

I could find no reassurance for that thought but realization set in that there was no option and I would just have to reconcile myself that if such an event happened, then I was about to prove out my belief that there is no god.

We set off into a dark sky and there was immediate clouds to contend with that enhanced my general feeling of helplessness.

The pilot was happy to have me in his co-pilot’s seat, so this time the view was looking forward and not out over a wing.

Between cloud and darkness, the first portion of the flight showed me how pilots must have an innate belief in their cockpit avionics as we could see absolutely nothing ahead of us.

Eventually the skies opened up a bit and the moon came up and lit the skies for us to see. Taking pics became a good distraction and the conversation truly shortened the journey to where I didn’t really feel the 2 1/2 hour flight as much as I would have, if I had been alone in the back.

The pilot was a really good guy and he went out his way to explain what the monitors in the cockpit were showing and what everything meant.

But the bottom line was that he didn’t have a heart -attack and despite my fears we landed safely in Tampa and I made it home by eleven.

I have attached a number of shots from the cockpit to the end of this blog. Hope you enjoy!

In rationalizing my fears and the ease at which I could take myself into a mild panic state, I found the thought for today’s blog.

You see, most of us live our life within our comfort zone and quite rightly so. Within our comfort zone, our heart rate and blood pressure stays normal, our sense of well-being is at its best, and for whatever level it ever is, we feel life is somewhat under control.

Oftentimes, things happen that force us out of our comfort zone and we can experience increased stress and anxiety until once more we return to however we view our normal lives.

Some people deliberately challenge their boundaries, pushing themselves to the limits and expanding their view of what is normal for them. It might be as extreme as jumping out of a plane or as mild as taking one hand off the handle-bars on their bicycle.

To a certain degree it is a good idea to do so as it can help us grow as a person and many of us do so without even thinking about it once the umbilical cord is detached.

While thrill seekers live their lives on the end of a bungee cord, those of us with “normal” brain function create a better balance between new and old such that our lives are balanced and yet have an essence of growth.

It is important to step outside of our comfort zones at least occasionally so that our lifestyle is more than just a sedentary passage of time.

New experiences give us an option to explore if something suits or doesn’t, is good or bad for us, will help us grow or not.

Regardless of our fears and anxieties, we should challenge ourselves to stretch without necessarily placing our lives in jeopardy.

For me, personally, though I experienced the “joy” of flying home like I did the other night, the thought of meeting my fate from over five miles up in a dark sky can continue to stay beyond my boundaries. I will take my chances with a five foot distance from a giant gator on one of my trails.

At least then, if someone is about to die because of a heart attack, it will likely be me.

… just a thought.