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I have a crush on this term: ESCAPE VELOCITY. It’s the amount of speed an object needs in order to break its gravitational rotation and shoot out on its own. Obviously, we’re talking about objects in space here, but I like it because it sounds like me.

Here’s where I differ from objects in space, though. Take your average piece of space debris (we’ll call him Greg as I’m really fond of that name), that’s been happily making the rounds of Saturn for – well, I was about to throw a number out there, but I have no concept of this stuff and don’t want to out-myself as the ignorant American I am, so let’s say – a really long time. The space-displacing awesome girth of Saturn has created enough gravitational pull to keep Greg locked into the same space commute for – a really long time.

At first, maybe Greg felt that freshly-minted sense of purpose you get at the start of anything new: I’m a piece of debris! Wait…I’m SATURN’s piece of debris! Saturn is obviously the best game in town out here. Look at all these other pieces of debris – they agree! We can’t all be wrong!

Once that purpose-buzz wears off, Greg probably had plenty in the way of new scenery to keep him occupied: Oh, I love this side of Saturn. I wonder if there are other pieces of debris on the surface down there? Oooh, here comes my favorite corner where I can see that great big burning ball…so bright!

Then, because newness is like a cheap lacquer that thins out and wears off with repeated handling, I would imagine that Greg just got sucked into the routine of it all…just kind of rotated for – a really long time.

And maybe, after some time, Greg picked up some extra girth of his own and found himself slightly further out from the center of his rotating band and thought, ‘Hm, this is weird’, and just like that game you play on the playground in grade school called THE WHIP where a long chain of kids links up arm-to-arm and runs in a circle and you take turns being on the end because that’s where you go the fastest – one day Greg found himself at the very outer end of his rotating band and before he knew it: he felt himself disengage with a ripping sensation, felt strange air all around his body like never before, felt the power and the terror of his own trajectory and momentum slingshotting him out and away from Saturn, the best game in town, seeing it from angles he’d never seen it before, but mostly looking out – looking forward, feeling space particles whiz by like wind.

And eventually, Greg’s momentum will slow and he’ll feel himself pulled like a tractor beam to some other massive space-displacing girthy planet body, and he’ll know his experience with “Saturn” the “best game in town” is in the past now and this is his new life.

Escape Velocity.

Where Greg and I differ (besides all the obvious ways) is that I am the pilot of my own Escape Velocity. As I feel the seasons of my life run through those stages of purpose-buzz to scenery to routine, I hear this whisper from my gut: move faster. The speed starts gathering in my head first; like an old-time movie projector starting slowly, I am treated to images of whatever my next Saturn could be – the next “best game in town”. I feel a corresponding quickening in my desire to stop acquiring stuff, hoard my resources (like canning preserves for the winter), plan, dream, talk…soon I have spun a whole fantasy out, my resources are streamlined, my mind pointed like a dagger, my body tensed for the spring.

And then I launch.

The problem with Escape Velocity for me is not the velocity; it’s the escape. I love the velocity but I’ve made the mistake of tying it up with escape. I am in love with speed. My heart screams for it, my body responds to it, my soul goes along for the ride, hair thrown back and streaming in the wind, knuckles white, big grin. And as I get older, even though I keep responding to that deep whisper (move faster) (Tacoma – Los Angeles – Seattle – DC – Saturn who?), another part of me is resisting. Is growing tired. My orbit is eroding in quality, my arc of speed in strength. I’m so tired of moving boxes and new apartment leases and the process of dating new friends and finding a grocery store.

So I come to this: is it possible to maintain velocity and just orbit one thing? Or will my velocity create escape, again and again, until I don’t know where I started or why I’m going?


NiteSkyGirl Blog said...

Great coverage !

Jenny said...

This explains my life 91% of the time. It's like reading my own thoughts. Except I don't call it "greg".

Phoenix said...

Wish I had some awesome advice... we all want to keep moving and feel that movement reflected in our lives yet we all still yearn to be able to be still and alone with ourselves.

Balancing the two is tricky.

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