Gravity

 

“Mommy, I’m sad,” she pouted as we crossed the parking lot hand in hand, I in professional dress with hosiery and heels and she in pink pony rain boots and fairy wings. “I tried to fly with my wings on the playground today, and I couldn’t lift off—but I was running so fast! I guess my wings don’t work.” Her desperate report continued—“And these were my real wings!”

“What do you mean ‘real wings’,” I asked as I removed the Tinkerbell wings she had brought to pre-school for show-and-tell and helped her climb into the car. “They light up,” she explained impatiently—“My pretend wings don’t light up. They can’t fly me. Silly mommy.”

Ah, I see. Silly mommy. These triple-A-battery-operated “sold separately” wings with an iridescent color-changing feature are very distinct from the simple satin-trim wings that came with her Tinkerbell costume, in that these iridescent wings will actually allow her to fly (if she can achieve adequate take-off speed). As I buckled her sister in, I silently wondered if show-and-tell had been embarrassing for her. I made a mental note to remind my husband to talk to her about gravity that night after dinner, when he places her on his lap in front of the computer to “research” a topic that she is curious about. Ignorance is a choice, and it’s not one we ever want her to make.

Gravity. The degree of intensity with which one body is affected by the attraction of gravitation exercised by another body. I was born into it, and it keeps me no matter how forcefully I try to escape. As my distance increases, the force decreases, but it’s still there pulling me, and one tiny movement back in that direction increases the pull again. Before I know it, it’s drawing me down…down…down. All progress lost, and for a little while, I’m okay with that. Did I really want to escape it, anyway? I convince myself that I did, and up I go again. As I ascend to intellectual heights, the force that draws me back relents, giving me away to my own persistence. I imagine that its pull becomes imperceptible. At first I may feel a sense of victory. But then I might notice that I’m frigid and suffocating. If I try to turn back around, back to the force that has held me my whole life, will I be able to? Will I even be able to tell up from down? Can I escape it altogether? Could I ever go too far? Would I be able to adapt and survive? Is this what I want? Would this be freedom, or would I feel bound to wander without aim?

We’re not talking about gravity any more.

Precious Tinkerbell, I’m sorry your wings didn’t work. They were so fancy, with the iridescent lights and triple-A batteries. So much better than those simple satin-trim wings that everyone else has. I know you really thought you would go places. But Tink…have you thought about what it would be like if you actually flew? You can’t even ride a bike without training wheels yet—do you really want to be set loose like that? Gravity keeps you here, with your feet planted firmly in pink pony rain boots. Do you really want it to let you go?

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