Monday, May 2, 2011


By Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO
AANP Past-President (2008-2009)

I was on a plane recently that, as it started its descent, encountered a snarl of air currents. As we were being tossed around, the copilot announced that we needed to buckle our seatbelts tightly and keep our trash out of the aisle so that the flight attendant had an unobstructed path back to her seat. He had to repeat the message because the bumps created such a stutter in this voice, it was hard to decipher. A few seconds after his second announcement, a blur hurdled down the aisle and landed in her flight attendant seat with a loud, “My, my!”

So there we all were, gripping our arm rests, fighting panic. With each especially hard bump, there were scattered exclamations or nervous laughter throughout the plane. Strangers who had not even acknowledged each other getting on the plane now turned toward each other with shared glances of worry and reassurance. As we finally cleared the turbulence and people relaxed, the plane was full of animated conversation – neighbor to neighbor.

As I collected my own breath and relaxed back into my seat, I was struck by how unifying that shared fear was for us all. We were all spectacularly humbled by this force of Nature wrestling with our plane. We were stuck in it together, and we bonded.

Later, happily on my own two feet in the terminal, I looked out at the sea of people walking past me and I slipped right back into my solitary traveler mode. As quick as my sense of community had developed, it evaporated. It all made me realize what a tremendous role we each play in each other’s lives – even in the lives of people we do not know. We each hold the potential to bond or to ignore one another. The potential to bond with each other is right there, lying in wait, ready to spring into action at the first provocation. It seems as though when we are in a situation that sheds our normally carefully constructed layers of insulation and protection and leaves us naked to our true self, what we find is a compelling desire to connect with each other. Connection is reassuring, orienting, and inspirational.

Makes me think that perhaps a bit of turbulence in our lives may not be such a bad thing after all.

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