Anxiety Dreams Featuring Air Traffic Control

I am currently away on an Internet Vacation. I’ll be back online on March 31. I have written one new post for each day of my Vacation so that folks don’t miss me too much while I am gone. But keep in mind, these posts have been scheduled ahead of time. Feel free to comment, as always, but note that since I am not checking email, I will likely not be replying to comments until I am back from my Vacation on March 31. With that said, enjoy!


Anxiety dreams are interesting little creatures. Not really nightmares, they can often install more bang for their buck than a nightmare can. When I was younger, I’d have a dream in which I got onto an elevator, the doors would close, then the lights would go out and the elevator would sink into some impossibly deep subbasement and I’d be stuck. I’d have these dream over and over at various intervals, although I was never particularly nervous or afraid of being stuck in an elevator.

Later, that dream would morph into an elevator that took me impossibly high up into a building and then let me out on the outside of the building with the world shrunken below me and the wind whipping. This was uncomfortable, despite the fact that I’ve never been afraid of heights.

After college, I had that well-worn anxiety dream whereby I’d completed all of my college classes, save one, which I’d forgotten to attend the entire semester. No amount of makeup work would help since I managed to miss every lecture, every homework assignment, even the midterm! These dreams continued for a decade or so after I graduated and finally faded away. I can’t recall the last time I had a “forgot to go to class” dream.

It was replaced, of course, by another type of anxiety dream. Back in 2000, I got my private pilot’s license, which was a big deal for me. I’d fly out of Van Nuys airport in the Los Angeles area, which was a busy airspace and required constant contact with air traffic control. My anxiety dreams came in two forms:

  1. I’d rent a plane, taxi, takeoff, and just after taking off, realize that I forgot to contact air traffic control, forgot to get permission from the tower to take off, and now what the heck am I going to do? Maybe they wouldn’t notice?
  2. I’d rent a plane, despite not being current, and decide to try a few touch and go’s to see if I could still fly the plane. And of course, I’d do this without an instructor and without contacting air traffic control.

These were always troubling, anxiety-filled dreams and while this latest incarnation of the anxiety dream has waned somewhat, I still have this one every now and then. I could do without it, of course, but I wonder, will the next incarnation be better or worse? Because, there will be a next incarnation, if experience (to say nothing of biology) has anything to say about it. I don’t have anxiety dreams nearly as often as I used to and I suppose that is perhaps because I am less anxious than I used to be. But I’d prefer to do away with them entirely. I hate pissing off air traffic controllers in my sleep.