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  • Writer's pictureaymexume

Fear of heights and balloon rides: living (a bit) more fearlessly

People don't believe me when I say that I'm a little afraid of flying. I am. I've just developed a good coping mechanism: I fall asleep, almost on command, or I keep myself entertained, anything to keep my mind off the fact that I'm actually thousands of feet in the air.

The fact that I take photos of clouds while in the air is also a bit deceptive. If you only knew how much I have to focus on my breathing and keep on repeating to myself that "the science is sound"...

I'm afraid of heights too. Even more than I do flying. I haven't really found a coping method that works. I am working on it though. (Feel free to share what works for you!)

When we booked the balloon ride in Cappadocia last September, everyone was sceptical. Including myself! But I wanted to at least try, even if it meant spending an hour above ground we my eyes tightly shut and squeezing Hubs's hands.

I wanted to try for two reasons: the experience and personal growth.

The photos I saw before my trip convinced me that it was a sight to be seen. In a good day, over 100 balloons glide across the sky. They hover over a spectacular landscape. Plus, there wasn't a single person we knew who talked about Turkey without mentioning a balloon ride in Cappadocia. Many described it as a bucket list experience.

I had turned 39 a couple of weeks before my trip. And, as I do when I near the end of a decade, I set out an overall theme for the next. I had decided to be a bit more fearless. To be a bit more daring. To do things that would make me cringe, uncomfortable or scared. What better way to walk the talk then to actually tackle one of my deepest fears?

I'm still scared of heights. But I (somewhat) conquered that fear for 60 minutes straight.

It did help that our pilot was experienced, funny and very personable. We also enjoyed perfect weather; there wasn't a single bump.

I'm still amazed by the fact that I didn't really feel that I was in the air. It's pretty hard to explain.

Do you know the feeling you sometimes get in an elevator? You know, that feeling of moving upward. I didn't even feel that. You know how you can feel when a plane is gaining in altitude. It didn't feel like that either.

The basket was sturdy enough that it felt like solid ground under my feet. Rather than feeling that we were going up in the sky, I saw the ground going further and further away. It was the weirdest feeling. I knew I was flying but I didn't feel it.

And the basket remained stable throughout the entire ride. I was amazed, so I asked. It has to the with warm air (in the balloon) and cold air (in the sky). They fly early because the cooler the air the easier it is to navigate and the more stable the basket. The things I learn while on the road...

During the ride, the two people who shared the section with us started to move a lot. They were switching places and leaning into us to get the perfect shot. I felt them moving around and that made me feel uncomfortable. And that is the only type of discomfort I felt while in the air.

At no point did I think that I could fall out of the basket. It may sound silly, but this is one thing that was on the back of my mind until I actually climbed into the basket. It's rim went way past my waist to about my chest. I was even daring enough to lean on it and look down. But I asked Hubs to hold me just to be on the super duper safer side. I would have been fine without him holding me. Scaredy-cat. I know.

I'm a work in progress.

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