Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Pondering Terminal Velocity: As the Object accelerates (usually downwards due to gravity), the drag force acting on the object increases, causing the acceleration to decrease. At a particular speed, the drag force produced will equal the object's weight. At this point, the object ceases to accelerate and continues falling at a constant speed called Terminal Velocity.
A chance conversation on Terminal Velocity set my mind to wandering abstract pathways once again. It is a familiar network of trails, these abstract passageways, familiar and yet always new, interesting, twisting, convoluted, and without a clear destination. I think that is what makes my mental meanderings all the more fun, I never know exactly where I will end up. It is always a surprise. Usually pleasant, sometimes not so much. But nearly always enlightening. So, a chance conversation, a mentioned formula, a concept. You may ask, where did my mind take the scientific formula? Where did my less than scientific Brain go with the interesting concept of Terminal Velocity? Brain rolled it around, played with the idea, took it from solid science to the soft science of psychology, and from there to the absolutely unscientific comparison to Life, the pursuit of Happiness, the chasing of Dreams.
Some may not see how I could move from point A, to B to C. But I am all to capable of taking great leaps in my thinking, seeing odd parallels, similarities, connections. In this particular case I liken Terminal Velocity to the rate at which I am hurtling through life right now. It all started so slowly, as if there was entirely too much drag, and not enough gravity. My life felt as if everything moved in slow motion, through a substrate that was viscous and refused to relinquish its cloying hold to allow me to freefall. But slowly, as if shedding that viscosity bit by bit, my rate of movement has increased incrementally over time. Movement through Life, from struggling and sluggish, to active and accelerating. I feel I have stepped out of the plane and bit by bit, as Body and Brain shed excess, cumbersome constraints, I am gathering speed. As the detritus of Life peels off, bit by bit, it is whisked into the stratosphere, away from me, and into oblivion, I am becoming streamlined and sleek. As Drag is reduced, Acceleration increases. Less Drag = Higher Speed. I feel as if my life has become a beautiful, invigorating, intoxicating, enticing, exhausting, exhilarating Freefall. I am plunging through the upper atmosphere, wind speed a palpable force pressing into me, whipping me, blasting me, making every nerve zing with life.
I do not know yet if Life is the atmosphere or gravity. Either way, I know I am plunging through my days with heady speed. Life is propelling me along, faster, ever faster. I tell myself that maybe I should spread my arms, take the wide, belly first position of the skydiver to increase drag and slow my fall. But I can't. I am delighting in the flight, the increased speed. I keep my arms tight to my sides, legs together, toes pointed, facing towards the Earth as her forces pull me in. It is exhausting, this Freefall, this long plunge through Life. Exhausting, frightening, alarming, and yet delirious, fantastical, beyond imagination. I am sleek, aerodynamic. My speed accelerates. I know I should slow my descent, but all I can think is, "faster, faster." I want to move beyond standard Terminal Velocity. I want to set records. I want the exultation, the delirium, the joy of a Life pushed to the limit. It is frightening, nerve wracking, exhausting, but worth every moment. What is Life without risk, without excitement, without daring to push the limits? What is Life without trying to reach Terminal Velocity?