On every flight, I grip the armrests pulling my knuckles tight. Impulsively, I resist the lift of the plane into the air. I push myself down into the seat and grasp for the safety of the ground below. My fear of flying, my tendency to expect the worst, to stress the possible and terrifying outcomes, makes the lift the worst moment of the flight.
But eventually, the plane pulls off of the ground, fighting gravity and the weight of passengers, luggage, and the sheer heft of itself. It’s a familiar struggle between the momentum generated to take flight and find lift and the desperate pull of gravity, of the earth’s roots, and the safety of the ground.
Three weeks ago, white-knuckled, I pressed myself down into the airplane seat, resisting the lift. I tensed, held my breath, and closed my eyes all while attempting to appear completely calm. I was on the way to Connecticut for a visit with a dear friend and a mentoring session with the wonderful photography team, Justin & Mary. Within that tension and breath holding, were many questions about my future dreams and goals, overwhelming fears about moving forward along a given path, and doubts regarding the choices I wanted to make.
I walked into my mentoring session the same way I boarded the plane: anxious, nervous, and afraid. We talked finances, we talked about dreams and a vision for my business, and we reviewed my website and social media accounts. Little by little I felt myself approaching take off. I felt myself impulsively pulling back; I heard myself making statements that were safe because I wasn’t sure I was brave enough to fly in the direction I thought I might want to.
I knew then that I had two options. I could walk away, stay grounded. Or I could trust the flight.
When Mary told me that she could tell just from my galleries that my true heart and soul was with my families, that because I choose to see and honor the beauty and complex imperfection of my own family’s blended history, I can also see and capture the beauty in the imperfection of the families I work with, tears filled my eyes. Mary saw my heart, and at that moment I felt safe enough to finally acknowledge it. I knew at that moment that I was finding the trust to finally lift off.
For months, I had been stuck in the moment before the lift, of fighting the flight. The moment just before the tires release their hold on the earth. I was struggling to stay grounded, safe, and rooted because choosing anything else felt too risky, too lofty, and too unknown.
But in the midst of this struggle there comes a point where the plane must fly. And we must too. We have to trust the flight and relax into the lift. Whether they are small, quiet changes or big, scary dreams, there’s a point where the fight to stay safe is no longer worth the struggle. We must grow.
We must fly.