Fighting Gravity

I think many of us spend a lot of time fighting gravity. I spent a weekend ago snowboarding and I know I spent a lot of time doing it. When I hit the occasional patch of ice that made me go fast (yes, east coast slopes), I would turn my board more to get a better edge to slow down. The problem is that you aren’t that effective anyway, and then when you hit a patch of snow again I would slow down way too fast, like getting hit by a car. And then I would go flying Superman style for a spectacular flop.

After a couple times of this, I decided to speed up during the patches of ice and go with the ice flow. I went a little faster than I wanted. Not fully in my control. But then when I was back on familiar terrain I was in a position I wanted to be and just cruised right through.

Such is gravity. 9.8 meters per second squared. Constant acceleration. Exponential velocity curve.

My Uncle Arthur tried to fight gravity in the army too. His gravity was the general perception that he was a Jew. And given this was during the Korea War, prejudices ran stronger than they do today. Arthur continued to flounder as he tried roles others assumed he was less fit for until he got reprimanded and was put in charge of acquisition of supplies.

Essentially, he was Red from Shawshank Redemption. The guy who could get you what you needed. In a more appropriate M.A.S.H. context, he was B.J. Honeycut or Hawkeye making trades with other units under the radar. What a perfect job for a “Jew” and so he excelled, accelerating with the natural gravity of the situation.

At the same time, some of the greatest leaders of our time have been able to resist and overcome gravity, creating revolutionary ideas that changed the gravities of their time. But how do you know when to do which?

I find myself coming to the same conclusions as astronauts. Sometimes when caught in the inevitable pull of gravity the best idea is to embrace it, speed towards in that direction and just before hitting the object and crashing, fire all thrusters in a lateral move and slingshot past it. Then you are free to navigate any direction you choose. It's about using gravity to reach escape velocity. In astrophysics it's called gravity assist.

What gravity are you fighting right now? Should you be fighting it or using it?