The Beauty of Turbulence

Somewhere between DC and Connecticut, the skies got rough.

Our little 30-person plane seemed easy prey for the jet stream and storm clouds.

We bounced and shook, tray tables rattled, the in-flight service was cancelled, people looked warily at each other.

And of course we would. Turbulence feels dangerous, like we’re one gust away from being split in half or plummeting to planet earth.

But here’s the beauty of turbulence: while the feeling of it is scary, the truth of it is not.

Turbulence hardly ever causes plane crashes, and the likelihood of turbulence doing real damage to an aircraft is slim.

But feelings are powerful things. That stomach jump and white-knuckle surge we get is undeniable. And feelings are so powerful, they can masquerade as truth. Our fear, doubt, worry yell so loud, we can think they must be true.

They aren’t, though. They’re big, dominant feelings; which doesn’t mean they’re the big, dominant truth. We don’t need to believe them.

Let’s call a spade a spade: that’s not easy. Especially when our stomach is overrun with butterflies before a speech, our mind is telling us there’s no chance we’d get that job, or our plane is bobbing like a buoy 31,000 feet above the earth.

But if we can call our feeling by its name - I’ve got anxiety, terror, overwhelm right now - we can get some space between ourselves and all the energy radiating off that feeling. And with a little distance between ourselves and our feeling, we can more clearly see the truth of the situation.

Our bouncy little aircraft landed on the Connecticut tarmac. We got off. The feeling of fear was gone. The truth of safety was present. It had always been there. It just hadn’t felt like it.

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