|Photo Credit: Morguefile by earl53|
"Do you know the moon actually falls around the earth?" asks my eldest son. He's taking physics this year, moving inexorably and permanently into the world of things-Mom-does-not-know.
"No, I didn't," I say. I turn and look at him. Poems full of moons crash hard against my brain. My hands itch for the keyboard. His face, too, is passionate—for him; passion means something very different at fifteen than it does at thirty-seven. His mind is full of measurements and math.
"It's only the tangential velocity that keeps it from crashing down," he continues. He says something about attraction, something about gravity. I am lost. The moon is falling around the earth. It is swooning, sweeping, crashing in grand displays of emotion in its drop and, yet, it's always going 'round—tracing a path of inevitability in the footprints of its whereabouts the very year before.
This. This is how to live. We are born and fall from our mother's womb. We never stop falling. We cascade past stars and planets, never suspecting the largeness of our own expanse. In space, we are small and we fall, lonely all our lives, around the purpose we are made to make. Around and around, effortless and without control, the sick rising up in our guts, we fall. We fall. We fall. We fall. We fall to terror and to thrill.
We meet a man or a woman or we bear a child and fall into the orbit of our life, around the thing we call togetherness. We think we're steering, but we're plummeting around our growing mutuality. They smile, we smile. They speak, we answer. They hurt, we cry. We fall in answer to our love, our desire not to fall alone. We think we are walking or pushing the cart. We think we are strolling with them. Then, sometimes, they turn and make revolutions of our lives. In chaos, circling bloodshed—we know then that we are crashing into airless space. Space seems to suck us into empty, hollow cold. We don't know that we have never left the orbit that we set. Until we see that we remain in motion, have never stopped, are tracing our own steps around the known.
To fall with grace—oh! what a beautiful thing that would be. Adored by gravity and held up by faith; creatures of flight, creatures of courage, heavenly bodies we'd be. Freed from illusion of command, to swoon all our lives and be carried by a force beyond our sight.
Not me. I fall kicking and screaming and casting about. I think I am charting the course. I will get 'round the earth by Friday. Hurry, dammit, we are going to be late!
"Mom! Do you understand?" he says.
"Yes," I say. "Yes. I understand perfectly."