The Fear of Flying


Do you remember the first time you flew in an airplane?  I do.  I don’t remember how old I was, and it took me a moment to recall where I was even going, but I definitely remember the feeling. First there was movement, like being in a car but more massive, heavier.  Then there was that moment where leaving the ground seemed both impossible and impending, terrifying and exhilarating.  My brain was faced with a paradox: flying seemed impossible, even while I knew it was happening to me.  And then?  Liftoff.  Soaring.  We were in the air.

This is how tango feels to me.  In those first moments of your first tango experience, you’re moving, but you’re not sure what’s going to happen next.  You’re walking into the great unknown, into something that seems scary, unlikely, and yet totally exciting.  It seems impossible that you could learn this, that you could do this, and yet you are.

I’m just beginning my tango journey, and yet I have had a very specific thought several times. Here it is:  now I’m really dancing tango.  The truth is, I always was, right from the very first time I started walking with my partner, started learning how to hold my frame and moving with the music and letting myself lift off.  Every time I think to myself that I’m really doing it, those are the moments when I am flying.

But what about being afraid to fly?

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