A Loss of Words

I did it. 

I wrote the most soulful, harrowing, genuine, clarity-filled post I had ever written. 

And then I lost it. 

As we prepared for our upcoming anniversary trip down here to Tulum, Mexico (where I sit at this very moment, absorbed in a tropical beach-dream come true), I had been planning to write this particular post. I meant to put aside time writing it way before we boarded the plane, as my anticipatory fear of flying often starts months in advance. Yet the busyness of life intercepted, and it wasn’t until we were strapped into our seats on the plane that the words began to breach the dam. 

I took my raw fear, that had moved suddenly from anticipation to staring me straight in the eye, and I began. With my phone and my two small but mighty thumbs, the words billowed out, filling the tiny screen.

From the startling moment of the jet-engine’s deafening start, to the pure surrender of the moment of lift-off. From when I closed my eyes and said my most earnest prayer for safety and the ability to be able to hug my children again. From the moment when peace triumphantly emerged as I was taken back by the beauty that was displayed out my window at 30,000 feet…I captured it all in my complete narrative. For the entire two hours of the flight, I wrote. 

I described in gritty detail, the effects of panic that my body feels when I am traveling in an airplane. The moment when the doors close and the white flag is waved. When the pilot announces that there will be turbulance and my breathing seizes up. When I am in the midst of turbulance and my nerves catch fire and my body is frozen with fear and lack of control, and the epiphany and relief that I have when I surrender to that control. When I let my role be one of traveler and leave the flying and controlling up to the pilot. When I realize that maybe the fact that I have gotten to have a tiny snack and a ginger ale while writing and listening to Band of Horses all while simultaneously not having to move a damn muscle can actually be seen as relaxing instead of terrifying. When I realize that my husband, who is snoring hard next to me after two margaritas and a couple episodes of Portlandia, handles this flying business way better than me, so why aren’t I doing that??

Whatever I said, it was good. I felt it. It was raw and in the moment; a front row-seat inside the inner workings of my brain when faced with one of my biggest fears. I felt the landing-gear machinery opening, and I quickly gave the writing a once-over. It didn’t even need more than a word or two of editing. It was good. 

I had known the title for months. Learning to Fly. Flying has played such a big part in the story of my anxiety. It was time to give it the spotlight. 

Done. Title ready, photo of a plane, easy. Effortless and satisfying. Like a good meal at a restaurant. Only thing left to do is pay the bill. 

When you spend time searching for moments of creative inspiration and then suddenly it happens, where everything falls in to place, when an idea lands in your hand with ease and grace, waiting for you to make it your own, you treasure it. It is a special thing. Like a creative birth of sorts. A thing of beauty. If you fail to grab onto the idea, however, it is gone; it will flutter on until it lands on another willing soul, ready to give it a life of its own. It’s a delicate, fleeting process. 

We will be deboarding soon. I have to hurry to tidy up and make sure I haven’t left anything on the plane. So, I hit publish. 

An important thing to remember when you are traveling to a foreign country, is that the internet is not a given. And when you choose to do your writing exclusively on an internet-based blogging site, you most certainly need an internet connection, of which I did not have. But in a hasty, hurried moment, I hit publish. And although I missed the entire message that was given next, I know that it most definitely contained the word error. 

And then all was lost. 

When you create something, anything of originality, you realize the inability to duplicate it, at least without its original copy, that is. There will always be a first creation of something, and you need that evidence as a blueprint before it can be copied. A re-creation can be attempted, of course, but it will never be the same as the original. 

As I walked through the Cancun airport, excited about vacation and yet sick to my stomach with the loss of my words, I thought about trying to re-write it from memory. We did have a 90 minute shuttle ride, plenty of time to start over, right?  But the moment was clearly lost. The ideas, the words, the emotions, had clearly passed. I had to move on, let it go. 

It was hard. It sounds so silly, to be  so upset about the loss of something so seemingly trivial. But to me, it was important. When you feel that you can better explain your life in words, when you can shine a bit of your soul this way, it is a piece of you. You cherish it. For some, it is how you best show your true self to others. It is a genuine piece of your heart. 

A piece of my heart that will never be recovered. 

But then I started to think (as I often try to spin things into the positive), maybe those words weren’t meant to be read. Maybe those words were just for me. I had documented every moment of my journey through my fear of flying, and had come through with flying colors (hehe). The words had served as a catalyst, as a trusted guide, holding my hand, leading me through the thick cloud of fear. My words gave meaning to my emotions, laid them out, exposed them to the light. And we all know that fear cannot survive beyond the shadows. 

My words carried me through one of my most feared moments. Although I had wanted to share them with others, to bridge a connection for others who share a fear of flying, it was apparently just not the right time. There will be other times, though. 

At least I can rest in the fact that my words were there for me when I needed them. They guided me through a difficult time and remain forever in that moment. A moment no longer captured in words, but in memory. A moment where fear came and went like a passing cloud outside the jet window. A moment not meant for anyone but me, as I triumphed over my fear in quiet victory. 

The words are gone, never to be captured again, but the experience, the progress, it remains. Every single step taken towards freedom from fear leaves a lasting impression in my mind, a footprint in concrete. 

For this reason, I know that I have lost nothing, but gained everything. 

Okay. I think I’ve made my peace. Time to get back to some vacation time. And cross your fingers that I don’t lose this post too; I don’t think I could take it. At least I still have Mexico. It’s not such a bad consolation prize.

Adios!


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