Department of English

Spring 2008 Edition

Gravity

Kaylin Roundy
Expressive 2010 1st Place
Professor: Dr. Bryce Christensen

My fourth grade teacher had a very interesting theory.  She favored art, stuffed our little brains full of reading and writing, taught only a smattering of long division, avoided P.E. like the plague, and believed that nearly anything else contained in the district mandated fourth grade curriculum for Panguitch Elementary could be effectively taught through music.  It was compliments of her teaching theory that I learned about Promontory Point, dig-a-digging dinosaurs, and of the scientific law that has been prevalent in my life since I can remember.  “G-R-A-V-I-T-Y, gravity’s the thing!” My early childhood was abnormally burdened with this mysterious force known as gravity, so you can imagine my sheer delight when I discovered exactly what had been vexing me all this time!

Every person in the world has experienced gravity in one way or another on a daily basis, inevitably.  I concur with Newton’s gravity ideals; I believe gravity is a very solid scientific and natural law—at least no one I know of has managed to disprove it—and I am surely living proof of its existence.  I am not deeply versed in all the disciplines of science, but I do stake claim to knowing just how gravity can bring things down, most often to my great despair.  Allow me to illustrate my prowess with this particular topic.

If there was ever a wonder as to where I could be found when I was little, it was always safe to assume that I’d be plopped on the cream-and-brown-speckled linoleum floor of our kitchen staring intently at my reflection in the oven door.  My narcissism grew exponentially. It wasn’t long before I desired to enhance this enthralling experience, so I sought out a more comfortable seating arrangement.  In my quest for compatible stools, I found that the canisters my mother kept flour and sugar in were just right, giving me a perfect view and allowing a prolonged stay.  Besides, the sheer opulence was much more lady-like than just being plunked on the floor.

The first few times of lifting the canisters from a shelf that was slightly out of my reach proved successful, so I considered the task conquered. My caution lessened with each subsequent sitting.  I was far beyond any admonition Mom had given about how the containers might be heavy, and I continued in my careless behavior.

On one particular day, I was feeling very cocksure but also unaware that the flour had been replenished.  I listlessly grabbed the canister only to find out too late that it was—in perfect alignment with Mom’s warnings—far too heavy for me to lift.  Clumsily groping at it, I eventually lost my grip completely, and the container fell, landing with a deadening thud right on the big toe of my left foot.  Afraid that Mom would be angry that I hadn’t listened to her, I kept my little accident a secret.  A black toenail was a telltale sign that something had happened, but no one was the wiser—until about a week later when Mom overheard me gently warn, “Watch out toesies” before I lifted down a canister.  Back then, I was certain that it was the fault of my “toesies” for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, completely oblivious to the fact that a force beyond my control had overcome my physical strength and pulled the flour canister onto my foot.

I wasn’t an overly adventurous child; in fact, I was quite cautious, and it wasn’t until a few years later that I had another notable run-in with gravity.  I was careful all right, but I did have a healthy dose of curiosity and imagination.  So if there was any explicit snooping or exploring to be done, I crafted a flawless plan, and then persuaded my friend Emma to do the dirty work.

A light windstorm was tormenting our preconceived plans for the day, but we were determined to carry on, forgoing any misgivings that may have crossed our minds.  After all, we had been scheming our latest escapade for more than two days and were anxious to get to work.  Armed with a slat of plywood for the beginnings of a roof, I sent my friend to the soaring heights atop the wobbling, black trailer her family used to gather wood.  Mustering all the strength I could, I handed up large planks of plywood, and she would balance them carefully across the top. Slowly but surely, our plywood panels turned into a rough roof swaying dangerously in the wind.

In all our single-digit-years experience we had never created anything more fantastic than that hut.  In order to get the full effect, we thought it best to view our masterpiece from a distance.  As we were heading toward that predetermined distance of exactly forty-two and one-half steps, the inevitable occurred. That vicious windstorm disrupted one of our beautiful plywood panels, but rather than floating in the air, it was pulled toward the ground.  Once again the unknown force was harassing me.  The panel hurled toward us and smashed right into the back of Emma’s head.  I turned around in horror at the sound of her spine-tingling scream to meet my fate right in the forehead.

My eyes crossed as I watched blood trickle from my eyebrow and drip onto my favorite, ‘Panguitch Elementary Stars’ t-shirt. In sheer agony we hugged and then went our separate ways.  Running with all my might toward my house, I suddenly had the thought that this must be "the end.”  Worrying about living through the night, I bolted through the front door at mach speed and was reassured by my mom that I probably had a few good years left in me.

Gravity—that mysterious force—was constantly creating insecurity, ruining my plans, and even causing bodily injury.  What a relief it was when I finally found out what had been the culprit of some of my most painful childhood experiences.  But knowing exactly what gravity is does not entirely lessen its effects, especially if you are ever caught being anything less than sure-footed. Unfortunately, as I got older it seemed my experiences with gravity become increasingly unavoidable.

Throughout the next decade of my life I had some minor confrontations with gravity.  I had an unusual affinity for turning my ankles, dropping things like pencils or paper rather haphazardly, and tripping on the stairs every once in a while.  At times gravity even overcame the grip I had on my bow, causing it to drop entirely from my hand mid-song during weekly violin lessons.  For the most part, though, I figured I had overcome being susceptible to any major predicaments with gravity.  But then came that fateful day my sophomore year of high school when I realized I would probably never outgrow my gravitational challenges.

On that bright and sunny April morning, during fourth period, I was headed for the floral shop on errand from my Agriculture Science teacher to salvage flowers.  Our class needed them to practice making corsages for our upcoming FFA floriculture competition.  I felt that following the beaten trail would take too long, so I improvised with a shortcut by taking the route to the seminary building then cutting across the floral shop lawn.  I set off at a light jog, focused on my goal—so focused in fact that I as I rounded the corner, I completely dismissed the four-inch-high, three-inch-thick barrier that surrounds the luscious green grass of the floral shop.  If I hadn’t been well aware that the force acting against me was gravity, I would have sworn that the cement barrier had reached out and grabbed my ankles.  Needless to say, I flew into the most spectacular Superman dive and skidded across the grass, picking up grass stains galore and sloughing off any shred of pride or dignity I had.

Mortified, I arose.  Emerald green stains gleamed from my clothes and elbows mockingly.  I looked hurriedly around me, and a sigh of relief escaped my lips as I observed no apparent onlookers.  But then to my dismay, I heard laughter erupting from the nearby track.  Horrified, I turned to see that the entire track team had witnessed my glorified stumble.  Many were pointing at me, and some were even rolling on the ground crippled with laughter.

“G-R-AV-I-T-Y, gravity’s the thing”: the thing that smashed my toe; the thing that gashed my forehead; the thing that pulled me headfirst into my most embarrassing moment ever.  When contemplating the law of gravity, it is hard for me to look beyond the fact that it has plagued my life more than it has not.  Sure, it is the force that keeps our solar system in orbit and helps sustain a certain level of organization on the earth, but it is also the force that has incessantly kept me on my toes, or off them, as the case may be.  As I have matured and am currently attempting to morph into an adult, I have learned to coexist with gravity, although I must live a life of constant vigilance to avoid any surprise attacks from the arch nemesis of my youth. 

I would exhort you to learn from my mistakes.  Even if you are still skeptical about the existence of gravity, I would strongly discourage you from testing your hypothesis in ways that may cause bodily harm such as jumping from the top of the staircase in hope of flying, or leaping from an airplane sans parachute.  Once again, I assure you that gravity is real, and is not a force to be reckoned with.