At the risk of sounding political, I believe in science.
I spent way too many hours subjecting my brain to a Math-O-Matic blender of science classes in school to discount it. Let’s face it, nobody would have made it that hard if there wasn’t some validity to it.
Oh I believe in other important stuff too, like astrology and miracles for instance, but a well-accepted scientific argument backed with research and peer review generally offers all the evidence I need to form an opinion.
Even when I don’t understand it.
For example, I believe that gravity is real. And there is not much anyone can say to convince me otherwise.
I am not one of those “antigravers” who denies the existence of gravity. I do not believe that the invisible force that binds me to the earth and discourages my desire to lift weights at the gym is a conspiracy formulated by scientists who are trying to suppress my god given right to fly.
I believe if god had wanted me to fly, he or she would have given me wings. But I more strongly believe if science wanted me to fly, it would have given me a Gulfstream G550. At least with science, I still have a chance.
Still, I find it perplexing that science hasn’t really been able to explain gravity convincingly. What if I am wrong and gravity is just a big hoax thrust forth by unscrupulous scientists financed by the elevator industry?
In the 1600’s, long before being knighted by Queen Anne for inventing the satisfying fig cookie that bears his name, the mathematician and physicist, Issac Newton, developed the concept of gravity. His theory was elegant and simple. If an apple falls to the ground he reasoned, there must be a reason.
And the reason for that reason is gravity.
Newton and his gravity explained, among other things, why a pound of feathers weighs the same as a pound of bricks.
He later tried to explain this force of nature more convincingly by inventing calculus. The generations of aspiring scientists who were able to pass both Pre-calc and AP Calculus in high school, confirmed Newton’s theory for centuries.
It wasn’t until Einstein that the theory of gravity became truly embedded in the mystifying vocabulary of science. With his theory of relativity, Einstein rocked the scientific community with the mind blowing idea that gravity arises due to warping in the spacetime continuum. This is the same spacetime continuum that another noted scientist, Doc Brown, cautioned Marty McFly not to interrupt in Back to the Future II.
This startling new theory not only predicted what an apple would do if it left a tree, but it also predicted the existence of black holes in space which can suck down a pound of light just as easily as a pound of bricks.
Scientists flocked to this new theory, and for a while the only thing that was in dispute was whether spacetime was hyphenated or not.
Yet still, the actual weight of gravity itself could not be measured, and scientists invented new reality bending concepts which I can’t possibly comprehend to make gravity fit neatly into one big theory of everything.
Even now, among overwhelming evidence that gravity exists, it’s presence is not fully understood by scientists who probably took calculus when they were in kindergarten.
I had a flying dream the other night. I haven’t had one of those in a long time.
In my dream I was running with purpose toward something elusive. Each stride became longer and longer as I propelled myself forward. Soon the earth beneath my feet began to feel like a soft trampoline. I pushed effortlessly with unbridled glee.
I rose in long giddy arcs above the ground with slow descents that offered the chance to launch even further again, my feet barely touching the ground. I was skipping in a moon dream.
I awoke in my bed hard and heavy like a pound of rocks. But the feather light memory of flying stayed with me like an enlightening sip of morning coffee.
Clearly my dream was trying to tell me something.
At first I thought it was telling me to buy new gym shoes. But on further reflection, I realized that the feeling of freedom and self-determination I had experienced in my dream was escape.
But escape from what?
Well, an oppressive pandemic for starters. And wildfires. And hurricanes. And unemployment and violence and racial injustice and anger and divide and blame. And, of course, lengthy Zoom meetings and a dysfunctional post office.
In my dream I was escaping from all of those three letter acronyms that make my head spin everyday. You know the ones. CNN, FOX, PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC, WSJ, NYT, MAD magazine.
Because these day news is like gravity. It holds us down and prevents us from flying.
And despite my firm belief in science, sometimes a pound of flesh weighs significantly more than a pound of feathers.
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for take off.