I never thought I had a fear of flying, but on my last flight I went through what I imagine to be a life review. The life review, is like an internal movie of the events of your life, their consequences good and bad and the potentials of each decision made good or bad. A judgement day for the soul. I had something like that. I felt vague fear of dying. I spontaneously remembered words of endearment from my first love, felt current tensions and strained emotions with friends, sadness in the foreseeable passing of loved relatives, worry and wonder if I had unknowingly hurt anyone, guilt over words misspoken. My nervous system was in quiet overdrive. I felt a flood of mixed feelings. I realized what my brain and body were doing, some people experience a stronger version as anxiety and racing thoughts.
More memories came up, my first international flight, at 19, leaving the country by myself, I cried a mixture of sadness and fear. Sadness for leaving my home alone, going far away and fear of the unknown. I was heading to Latin America for a study abroad year. This emotion, the first sign, fear of death, initiated by flying, squeezed up deep emotional content and conflict from my subconscious. This time, I am flying to Europe to visit my son. It should be a good reunion but who knows? Fear of the unknown is potent.
Now age 60, I wonder if this simulated life review, this mix of unfinished, feelings, longing…a tender hole in my heart, sadness for leaving, fear of arriving, this really may be what the last stages of life or dying are like.
So, now what? What do I need to learn and do from this experience? Can I prepare to die differently? Can I die without having sadness, fear and regret? I have read samurai books, the noble fierce warrior tales. They say those samurai die without fear or regret. Is it possible not to have regret in life? Is there something I can do now to release and heal those feelings of sadness, loneliness? I think… “I do not want the last moments of my life to be filled with sadness.”
At my new destination, I am left with a fatigue that accompanies a kind of warp speed aging. I have bags under my eyes. My knees hurt. My feet blister at a normal walk. I feel like travel has aged me quickly. Hopefully I recuperate fully.
The jet lag and the sadness hang on. I am feeling all those people I love, all heartaches, struggles, unresolved feelings, hurt, longing, expectations and disappointments. Have I always been connected to my loved ones so intimately beyond time and space? I need to attend to them and my relationships more closely.
My faux life review, will I remember it? Will it collapse into the sea of subconsciousness like dreams and revelations that get forgotten in the morning?
As for the dying without regret, I guess, I have to start living without regret. Finish or start long overdue conversations, speak the words in my heart that will have the potential to heal relationships and make amends. I think as long as I am alive, I will have lessons to learn. There may always be a part of me that feels unfinished, or at least a feeling that I could inevitably have done more.
As for everyone else’s feelings, I have to leave that up to them. I give it back to them. I can’t do it for them. It is their spiritual journey.
Perhaps this way, in the present, I can rest momentarily alive in peace and love. I’ll let the future to take care of its self.
As for the fear… What did Benjamin Franklin say..? “ There is nothing to fear but fear its self.” Dying as a warrior with fierce love in my heart sounds like a good plan. Living with fierce love in my heart sounds even better.