STUDENT BLOGS: Theatre in London: Sites, Sounds, and Situations
Confessions of the Fearful Flyer
by Zack Lynch
I can't fly.
Let me correct that, "I am not comfortable being present on any method of aerial transport".
I have a hard time trusting a very light, compact and seemingly made of thin plastic vessel 30,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. Did I paint a picture for you? Well, good ... because that anxiety is exactly what I experienced on December 27th at the two U.S. airports we travelled through to reach our goal destination of Heathrow International Airport in London, England.
When I fly, I try to employ some of my light teachings in the Alexander Technique (via Catawba's own proficient professors Dayna Anderson and Missy Barnes). The technique is a method of conscious awareness of your body's relationship to multiple aspects of the physical and intellectual world. Specifically, one of my habits as a theatrical director and all-around person is a need overanalyze and constantly think. This, ultimately, causes unwanted tension to creep into your body and affects your overall ability to accept the world around you. You become enclosed, tight and self-involved ... and this type of thinking process must breed in those tight seats on an aircraft. Needless to say, I was "white-knuckling" that armrest as soon as I sat down on each flight.
Even though I tried to allow myself to remember that breathing was important ... and that unconsciously not being aware of my breathing on a plane only made the flight even more unbearable. I would have to kindly myself that breathing is essential to life, even on an airplane. Try holding your breath for about 5 hours. I know it's impossible, but the recreation of that stressful feeling was the experience for me on the flight from the US to the UK.
Alexander or no Alexander Technique applied, I was a ball of anxiety. I tried to force myself to get some rest, but that was not going to happen. Even if I was as calm as a little lamb, sleep was impossible. Being in the last row of a packed airplane, with your seat barely at any angle besides ninety degrees, you already have your work cut out for you. Now let's be real for a moment, what is the point of giving that little pillow out?! I mean, where are you even supposed to put it!? You know it falls down immediately after you lay your head on it, and you repeat placing it somewhere until you're fully awake anyway that you give up! Not even worth swiping the thing by slipping it coyly into your carry-on.
So, that is one vantage point from the air travel to London. The flight was originally supposed to be around seven and a half hours. However, we shaved off an hour time and did it in six and a half! I was grateful. But I don't think any of us were prepared for the day ahead of us. We left the U.S. at 5:45 pm and we arrived in London at 5:30ish a.m. the next day. In order to avoid sleep deprivation, we had to stay awake for that entire day!
And as soon as we checked into our hostel, we were off on our first walk around London ... and you can imagine the droopy gang of college students following our bright-eyed, smiling beacon of light ... Linda Kesler ... around some of our early theater history sights. I tried to manage a smile, but I think I only managed some half crooked grin ... because it was a battle to even keep my head up. Linda, however, was trucking it all over London ... like a champion. She wins the blue ribbon!