Saturday, May 17, 2008

Fears, Phobias, and Falling, Oh My!

By Kate

Snakes don't do it to me, nor does flying in airplanes. But put me on top of a high building or mountain, near the edge, and my skin goes clammy, my mouth goes dry, and my heart pounds harder than a jack-hammer.

So what have I dreamed for the past two nights? That I was on a slanted roof in danger of sliding over the edge. The first night it was only a four story building. The second night, however, it was a skyscraper. I woke up sweating in fear, heart hammering away, experiencing it as though I'd really been in danger. Clearly, the dreams were symptoms of stress.

Coincidentally, I'm two weeks away from a book deadline in a race for the finish line.

Isn't it amazing how the brain seizes on what it fears, such as heights, to express feelings of stress? Have you ever had the dream where you walk into a classroom to take a test, and realize you haven't been to class all semester and don't have any idea what the test is about? Or you can't remember your locker combination? You can bet there's some stress in your life and you're feeling unprepared for whatever is causing it.

Another stress in my life right now is that a trip we have planned is in jeopardy because of a ridiculous policy put out by American Express's Travel Agency. I don't know about you, but when I put my faith in a travel agency, I expect their full help and attention. What would you think if your travel agent got you a great deal on a flight, then, when you learned of a schedule conflict beyond your control, they refused to work with you to change it? No refund, no exchange, nothing. You can't even pay a fee to change your reservation, even though the next flight out an hour later is practically empty. Use it or lose it, buster. It's not rational, it's just policy, pure and simple.

Hmm. Shouldn't a travel agency's policy be to help their clients get to their destination? What's wrong with this picture? Would you ever trust this agency again? So I have a new fear to add to my list: Big corporations, especially ones that purport to be out there to help us.

What are your fears?

Kate