The Gravity of It All
I’ve been thinking about gravity a lot lately. Perhaps I have allowed my situation to make me a little too serious, and I realize that I have been behaving as if my situation was overly grave. But I know an opportunity when I see it, and I think I might be on to something in this realization. As my body weakens, and it becomes harder and harder to lift my arms and legs, it has suddenly become apparent to me that gravity is not my friend. Indeed, it very well might be that my problem is gravity. Most of us are pretty happy to have gravity in our lives. It keeps us grounded. It keeps us from floating off at inopportune times, especially when we would like to remain in place. But I am wondering if perhaps my problem isn’t so much that my muscles are weakening, but that gravity is exerting undue influence on my movements, singling me out from the rest of the general population, and requiring me to find some mitigating technology to counter its effects. All I need to do is reconceptualize the issue at hand from a medical problem to one that has to do with the effects of gravity, and then maybe I have a chance to solve this.
Of course, thinking through a gravity problem means really delving into the etymology of the word “gravity.” The Latin root, gravis, actually means heavy. That seems to fit me pretty well. Too much weight, heaviness of the limbs, caused by too much gravity is the issue. My legs are just too heavy to lift. My arms must be gaining weight as well, as the pressure on them seems to be increasing. It is a question of gravis. As we used to say in the 60’s, this situation is really heavy. But heavy doesn’t fully speak to my situation. It isn’t that it is so heavy, as it is that things keep migrating south. So maybe this is a migratory problem.
As you may know, there are now real ecological concerns for almost every creature that engages in migration. Birds for example, are particularly vulnerable to the enticements of big city lights. They mistake buildings that are lit up as signals that it is OK to keep on flying, or they fail to perceive that the windows of a building are windows and not the reflections of the trees, sky, or horizon–real images but dangerously not real from the avian point of view. They will fly until exhaustion or collision takes them down. I have to admit that the big city lights have always attracted me, and I definitely understand the signal to keep on flying until exhaustion. Evidently a number of people in Mineapolis emulate the same, as the police have to come out at 2:00 AM when the bars close in order to get everyone talked down and to stop flying. And in my present gravity induced, migratory state, I can really relate to how exhaustion can leave me feeling that all I want to do is drop. But if I drop, I think I am back to the gravity issue, although I suppose we could interpret my southern migration as gravis to the max.
Another migratory creature, the grey whale, also is experiencing migratory difficulties. It seems that the subsonic, low frequency signals associated with motors and communication systems are disruptive to whales’ migratory paths as they are often in the same range as the signals the whales themselves use to guide them in their travels. This can result in the whales beaching themselves, drowning on dry land if you will. Now this migratory issue really speaks to me, as I find that often, I feel like a beached whale myself. When I get into bed, my legs are so useless that I really cannot move once I am positioned. As a mostly restless, toss and turn sleeper, this gets to be very wearisome, so I try to keep my sounds of frustration at the subsonic level. It is in my best interest as well as the interest of familial harmony, that I not wake Ev. She needs her sleep, and this becomes much more difficult if she is awakened by the hypersonic moans of the beached whale migrating south next to her. In this migratory vein, I think I see that my health issues are more about a new state of being, and that being identified, I think I am back to the gravity of the situation.
When we discuss the gravity of a situation, we acknowledge that it is grave, and in my case, there is no denying just how grave the situation is. Since it is grave, it takes on other meanings such as “serious, grievous, oppressive” or, as the Sanskrit relative of the word, guruh means, it is “heavy, weighty, venerable.” But that puts me back into the consideration of the weightiness of my condition. I suppose I could come to believe that this weight gain in my arms and legs, causing me to more acutely feel the weighty effects of gravity, is actually a grievous, oppressive state. No kidding. To quote Dennis in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “Now we see the violence inherent in the system…Help, help!! I’m being oppressed!” At least I think I feel oppressed, and when I feel oppressed, I tend to focus on just how grave everything is, and any discussion of graves conjures up all kinds of images that I just don’t want to think about yet.
Unfortunately,you cannot have a weighty discussion about gravity without a discussion of graves. The old English word graef relates to graves, ditches, and caves. Its relatives are related to the verb, grafan, which means to dig. While this is a state of affairs that I really don’t dig, I cannot help but feel that if I don’t interrupt this overabundance of gravity soon, my situation will have me ditching this plane of existence into the trenched grave, grafan specifically for me.
But there is more to this grave situation, for it is digging into me. As gravity works its migratory magic, I find my image to be more graven than grave. My body is carved, dug, impressed by the weight of dis ease’s gravity. And while I have never considered my image as graven, it is clear to me that gravity engraves me with its indelible etchings, testing my mettle or at the very least, meddling with my sense of how much gravis is present. Overall, I find the whole situation totally aggravating, and in a justifiable and remarkably symbolic act of defiance, I refuse to give it the proper gravitas it demands. In fact, in total insubordination to this unjust judgment, akin to throwing tea into the harbor over taxation without representation–although I am no tea-partier by any stretch of the imagination–I’m going to engage in civil disobedience and deliberately break the law of gravity. At least that is my plan.
Just as soon as I can ditch this cave full of beached whales and exhausted birds.