This is something I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned to anyone before — not that it’s a secret; mainly because it’s one of those “passing thoughts” that I’m not sure I really ever put into words in my head to eventually share. So here it is.
Some time when I was young I began thinking about what it would be like if Earth suddenly lost its gravitational pull, and all of us and everything started immediately ripping away from it, pulling apart, and floating out into space.
This was not a pleasant thought for me at all (hard to believe, huh? ;-)). And, on occasion, when the thought would strike me, it would keep me awake at night. It made me feel like I should always carry a walking stick with me (for support)… or wear cleats (to help me adhere better to whatever is left of Earth)… or…???
Luckily, this thought only occurs to me every once in a very long while, but… on occasion, I will subtly tend to avoid things that trigger it. For example, I can’t look up at the stars for too long without getting dizzy. Within a moment of enjoying the luster of Cassiopeia or Orion, I begin seeing and feeling the Earth (and me) move underneath them. It makes me feel unbalanced and small and helpless… and I start searching around me for things to hold onto to regain my sense of stillness again — without calling attention to myself and allowing anyone to notice this is what I’m doing. 😉
Or, for example, when I’m lying on the ground on the Fourth of July watching fireworks, if I focus on the patriotic music and noise and light of the fireworks flickering in front of me up in the sky, I’m fine. But if I start thinking about how the ground feels under my back as I’m reclining… I begin to sense that all there really is for my hands to grasp onto are clumps of thin, fragile blades of grass with superficial roots holding them to the dirt… I get nervous and worried that I and everything around me will immediately start to crumble or disappear if some random act of the universe willed it.
Back in seventh grade, I remember having a nightmare. I was dreaming that it was the middle of a school day and I was at my locker. The ground started shaking and walls pulling apart. I looked down the hallways past all the lockers, through all the students and teachers running from the classrooms looking as though they all knew exactly what to do and where to go in such a situation (but how could they? — it was the end of the world!). Still, they grasped door frames and desks and chairs and floated away into outer space clinging to these useless man-made structures. And they seemed fine.
I, however, reacted by searching for someone to hold onto. I wanted to be held in someone’s arms — tightly — knowing I would never be let go. But when I found the person I wanted to be with in that moment, I was too afraid to ask him if he would mind being the one I floated around with for all eternity.
And so I began lifting off the floor, through the roof and into the atmosphere alone… feeling lost, knowing that I would never be able to find the people I loved — my family, my friends — out there amongst all the junk in space. We were all cataclysmically lost to each other. Everywhere I looked, there was nothing but a void. And I could feel myself moving through it completely detached — unattached — to anything and everything….
Anyway… I have never liked the feeling of floating around with no direction or purpose, like a balloon caught on the whim of a breeze. I need security, the kind that comes with knowing I’m not alone in a moment (even though I like and need to have many moments alone to myself).
But, in writing all this out… it has occurred to me what my real fear is. I’m not really afraid that Earth, itself, will explode and physically break apart and cast everyone and everything out into a non-existence. Instead… maybe it’s that…
I’m afraid of not having someone to hold onto when my world shatters.
Well… it’s just a passing thought…. 🙂