WomanKind Magazine - N14 - 2017

When I travel by plane I’m always disturbed by turbulence, as if the presence of turbulence means something is wrong. When the plane is gliding along with no jolts it feels safe, while wind currents feel ominous. But turbulence is simply the result of strong winds or vertically rising air, or wake turbulence from another plane. We do not exist in a vacuum.

The onset of turbulence on a plane’s flight has much in common with the onset of disturbances in an otherwise plain-sailing life. A death or breakup, illness, money worries, bankruptcy, an argument with a friend, a feeling of injustice, these too generate turbulence. And when they occur, we regard them with contempt as if they just should not happen. “No one deserves such a thing.” “What a tragedy.”

But just like turbulence on a flight’s path, “life is an endless, truly endless struggle,” writes author Henry Miller. “There’s no time when we are going to arrive at a plateau where the whole thing gets sorted”.

It’s nice to put to memory that no flight has ever crashed from turbulence. Nor has turbulence ever damaged an aircraft. Menno Kroon, captain of KLM’s A330 writes on the airline’s blog: “An aircraft is actually quite flexible… So if you’re ever at a window seat and you see the wing moving up and down, don’t worry, it’s made to do just that.”

While it’s common to catastrophise when things go wrong, it’s worth remembering that we too are built to handle life’s inevitable bumps. We are stronger than we think.

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