Skip to main content

Free fallin’

Free fallin’

free fall“Falling is just like flying, except there’s a more permanent destination.”1

I love that quote. Ever since I heard it, it kind of stuck in my head, sloshing around like melted snow. It is true, in its own way – skydivers know that best of all. But it also hints at something more, some deeper meaning. I don’t know whether the author really thought about this being misconstrued as a metaphor for life. But I like to think that he did; he just refused to explore it further, just letting it dangle there, for the world to see.

Oh yes, we think we’re flying. Some higher, some lower, some faster, some slower. Look at us go. Look at us, flapping those arms, going through the motions! Look at those fluffy clouds, man! Ground? What ground? We can see no ground from up here, and anyway, for us, the ground is just some theoretical abstraction that those folks of a philosophical persuasion thought up. Why, they say we’re all going to hit it sooner or later, and it’s “goodbye, flying” from there on.

Other folks say you’ve got to keep light while you’re travelling, ‘cause when you hit that ground, you’re going under! But just keep light and then, well, there’s a chance you’d bounce right back up, all the way to heaven. There’s even folks saying you just hop like a frog, depending on your baggage, and that your purpose in life is to get just the right weight to stop altogether.

As for myself, I know we all are falling. I’m guessing I’m about half way down, give or take a few years. If all goes well, that is, and I don’t hit some Everest. Like an idiot. If I steer free of mountain ranges in general. Who knows, maybe I’ll find me some good old chasm and ride this thing down for all it’s worth. Hey, if I’m really lucky, there might be some zero gravity zone at the end of it.2 But I don’t get my hopes up. All I’m aiming for are some nice barrel rolls along the way.

So. Wasn’t that a waste of a good metaphor? *ahem*. Welcome aboard Air Destiny. Fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride.

  1. This is what Steven Moffat, one of the great screenwriters of our age, tells us in the – quite grand, to be honest – finale of the second series of “Sherlock”, a modern take of Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved character. []
  2. That would be what some of you good folks are calling “The Singularity”. Kind of like a Heaven for nerds. []

The winning streak

The winning streak

winning streak There are a few things as hilariously funny as a narrowly averted disaster. There’s the laughter itself – and then there’s the release of tension, the slight hysterics, the golden feeling that yes, your guardian angel sneaked one past the karmic gods. Way to flip good ol’ fate the bird there, buddy!

No matter what you do afterwards, be it work or leisure, there’s always that sweet taste in your mouth. You can’t fail. You lead a charmed life. Once more for the home team! Properly managed, that feeling could carry you onwards like a wave, reinforced with each new success, rolling over small failures – just flukes, really, this here is my day, sonny. It feels so good it’s addictive, and I bet many a gambler are doing it just for that total glow they get when everything feels just right and, like Mel Gibson in Maverick, you don’t need to look at that last card. You know it’s the ace of spades.

The funny part? We narrowly avoid thousands of disasters daily. The misstep you recovered from and promptly forgot about. The tailgater that hit the brakes just before you did. The revolving door that missed your hand with a fraction of an inch to spare. The freshly infected H1N1 carrier that remembered to put his hand over his mouth when he sneezed next to you. But none of them count, because we notice none of them.

Sometimes I wonder if luck has anything at all to do with it. What if luck is genetic, is something we got from ancestors with a history of being in the right place at the right time for some of the time, and in the wrong place at the right time for the rest of the time? What if that fabled human intuition – of which women are supposed to have loads – is a genetic characteristic reinforced by the natural selection of the luckiest bastards of the bunch?

That might explain why we laugh at the narrow escape. It’s nice to know our luck still holds.