Someone altered physics when we weren’t looking. And now there is no pushback.
“The glass is exerting equal force on me,” says my daughter, as she pushes a glass, embedded with a rising cobalt spiral, across the countertop. Of course, the glass is no match for her. But it has made its presence known to her fingertips, and perhaps she has been made stronger in imperceptible ways.
Did you know that when there was no wind, the trees suffered? Cause of suffering: a lack of stress wood. There was no pushing from the wind, and thus no pushback from inside the trees. Reaction wood never formed, because the wind never exerted mechanical force. The trees were made weaker in perceptible ways, including a refusal to grow asymmetrically. This happened at Biosphere 2, an Earth systems science research facility.
I think we fear the strength of asymmetry. Maybe this is why we let someone alter physics. And now there is no pushback. We grow lighter.
When the astronauts came home, their bones were emptied. Osteoporosis made these strong men weak-boned. Cause of emptiness: zero gravity. Bone cell formation depends on the chance for pushback. Without weight to encourage the pushback, the bones suffer demineralization. Calcium drifts away. Even the blood suffers calcium loss. For this reason, astronauts have been likened to bed-ridden patients, who are gradually, and quite literally, being emptied by progressive bone loss.
The side of my house is stucco—so rough to the touch. I have recently made it a point to put my hands to it, after taking a morning walk. This morning, the wind was gentle and the smells of fall were under my feet. I treaded the softness of bronzed and broken pine needles at the corner of Eldridge, then shuffled through piles of leaves out in front of the A-line Tudor. All of my senses were met with equal force by the visions and textures and fragrances of the day. When I got back home, I put my hands to the stucco and let it exert its equal force on me. I put my cheek to its coldness and stayed very still. The crows cawed, weighty.
On Tuesday, the poetry site I manage featured the art of Kasia Puciata. Kasia lived with Down syndrome. Her art displays a unique vision of the world, and her words are intriguing—so intriguing that we made a “found poem” from them. “Why are you staring at the computer screen, not me?” she asked. We put that in the poem, along with her question, “Where do you dream?”
Dreams are weighty, asymmetrical. But we must give them something to work with, something that will exert equal force upon us, give our souls a chance to push back. Kasia’s question confronts us. We have been growing lighter, staring at screens that do not exert equal force upon our senses. We have been steeped in zero gravity, away from the weighty call of the crow. “Why,” she says, “are you staring at the computer screen, not me?” The crow echoes her question, “Why?” and so does the stucco on the side of my house. The pine needles, broken and bronzed at the corner of Eldridge are asking, “Why?” and “Where do you dream?”
It is time to re-alter our daily physics and restore our gravity, by exercising our senses and sitting down with our daughters, our sons, our Kasias, our own souls—to find a place to dream that saves us… from the unbearable lightness of not being.