At the end of "The Living," a play written by Anthony Clarvoe about the ravages of the Plague in 1665 London, a speech is made summing up the tragedy by referencing the work of Sir Isaac Newton: "What Newton found: the world would fly to pieces, but for a great force, a power in every single body in the world, which pulls it ceaselessly toward every other body." Gravity. I listened to this speech, given by a high school actor in a production that featured the backstage talents of my son and his friends. They were battling gravity at every turn: keeping sets and props from falling, rolling and lifting, pushing and pulling and making the most of the laws Mister Newton suggested. That was how I was viewing it, from the outside. Inside, I was full of other thoughts.
Gravity is a very strong force, but maybe not as strong as that of life. Or death. Then again, gravity is the thing that drags us down. It brings bodies back to earth. Like the plague. Like time. It's a physics problem, really. Time is a factor in those operations. Eventually, everything comes to rest back on the ground. Or under it. These thoughts were fueled by the memorial service I was going to the next morning. A memorial for a fallen father, who would not see his teenage daughter graduate from high school this spring. Mortality and gravity. Partners in crime. It was gravity that put my own father in the ground: plane crash. Sudden deceleration trauma. When all was said and done, we sprinkled his ashes, though Newton might not be able to fully describe the way they drifted on the breeze. My father, it seems had already done his part for gravity.
I wondered how I might eventually find my own way back to earth. Riding my bike on city streets. Bending over to pick up those tiny bits of loose change. I strenuously avoid flying in small planes, preferring not to give the natural law of irony any help. I came back to the auditorium after those few moments of reverie, having never left my seat. This wasn't Newtonian physics, this was more like Einstein. Yet, there I was, stuck in my seat, slow to get up because of the gravity of the situation.