Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

On the Road Again. . . with Trepidation

Is there truly a word for everything?  I  have recently discovered the word hodophobia, which means fear of travel.  The word derives from the Greek  "hodos" for path, and "phobos" for fear.  Some restrict its use to fear of road travel, and use the broader term agoraphobia to describe a general reluctance to be away from home.  But whatever we call it--I've got it.

There are some adventures in my past, though they pale next to those of my globe-trotting husband.  I wasn't always afraid to leave home without--well, pretty much everything I own.  But as life became more stressful in general, and I hunkered down to raise some high-maintenance kids, a nascent fear of flying grew into a general reluctance to go outside my increasingly narrow comfort zone.

I didn't indulge this fear--much.  For a couple of years post-Katrina, I practically commuted to New Orleans to help care for my frail father.  And my white-knuckle flying gradually took on some color, and was even, eventually, enjoyable.  The plane trips and the airport time, despite the TSA hassles and the blaring alert levels, became a corridor of solitude in a season of ceaseless demands from one generation or the other.  But the beleaguered part of me was no longer eager to attempt new or distant itineraries.  

This is not how I want to see myself, shivering in my shoes.  Nor do I want my world to be as small as it has become.  

In the dark hours of tomorrow morning, I am leaving for a city I haven't spent time in for over a decade.  The woman I was supposed to be traveling with was summoned ahead yesterday.  I am left with a complicated set of instructions for getting from the airport to my eventual destination, which include one light rail transfer and a forty-minute walk.  I'm thinking cab.  I feel like I will be hurtling myself headlong out of a hot air balloon.  And I imagine every one of my fellow travelers as totally confident, unfazed by uncertainty and the tyranny of the old brain--the bold and the beautiful.  I know better.  Really I do.  

The occasion of this trip is the Ntosake Training offered by the Gamaliel Foundation "for women who are serious about being and acting more powerfully."   Ntosake is a South African word meaning, “she who walks with Lions; she who carries her own things.” Over the course of three short days, our focus will be  
to understand our own history, allies, relationships, obstacles, and motivation and how these relate to building our power and public life.
I am attending Track 2, "for women in significant leadership positions in their organizations and/or communities."  

So if I'm already a significant leader, and I'm going to be walking with lions and carrying my own things (which reminds me--I need to finish this post and get to packing!), I'd better just get over this cowering thing.  I should eighty-six the image I hold of myself as flotsam to be tossed about by the vagaries of various modes of transportation, dashed on the rocks of the unexpected.

For this mission, I plan to channel The Fourth Little Pig--the title character in a book I used to read to my children, all the while listening in to its wisdom.  Pig Four, as we refer to her in our family, ultimately coaxes her three hapless, traumatized brothers out of hiding.  In the wake of their terrorizing by the Big Bad Wolf, they had sequestered themselves together in the house of bricks where the wolf had met his end.  They had determined that the world was way too scary a place to inhabit.  But Pig Four didn't rest until she had lured them hence with promises of picnics, canoe trips and fudge.  And of course, this being a children's story, they all lived happily, and audaciously ever after.

And so tomorrow, once more, into the breach, errr, jetway.  

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