Just before leaving home to begin my new career, my son and I hit the theaters to see the must-see fall film, Gravity. Since our time together will be limited in the coming months and years, I splurge for the 3-D Imax version – worth every penny. For those who have not seen it (and no offense, but what is wrong with you?), questions arise as to the film’s feasibility scientifically. Regardless of the methods used by the characters to seek a safe haven, I like to believe that the world’s space programs have advanced procedurally and adequately to make catastrophic calamities impossible and that no astronaut would ever be untethered and free-falling through the cosmos.
Aside from the technical elements of the plot and the spectacular scenery and visual effects, the themes of solitude and isolation evoke ideas that parallel my approach to life over the road. Astronaut Stone enjoys the serenity of her work and when asked about her favorite part of space travel, she easily replies, “The silence. I could get used to it.” As I watch the film I completely agree with her words thinking she’s exactly right. While the title reminds moviegoers of the elusive force that the tumbling astronauts seek, perhaps the ability to release ourselves from internal, emotional forces that grip us equals the physical force planet Earth exerts on all matter. It’s challenging to rely on others when one is fiercely independent, to embrace others when one prefers seclusion, and to relinquish one’s grip on self-reliance, especially when life has proven its value repeatedly. I know.
On the final day of trucking school, a faux graduation confers upon me a sparsely distinguished envelope during a jumbled presentation that includes a reception preceding the ceremony. Knowing this educational experience’s duration offers a finite timeline of barely three weeks, I attempt to keep my classmates at arm’s length, and while mostly successful, the final day’s events still nudge at me to linger and let this nurturing environment stretch into my solo career. Recognizing the difference between my dependency on the safety net of training and the desire to socialize with the handful of people who have witnessed my first foray into a new career, I head directly to my vehicle as the unpretentious ritual ends and I acknowledge that as much as this crowd brightened my early driving experiences, standing on my own needs to remain my highest priority.
As I drive away from my first proving grounds with my CDL tucked safely in my wallet, I feel a discerning cross between melancholy of abbreviated farewells and the pangs of reality that the next step from here involves drifting away from the spacecraft and pushing myself to float untethered towards the next vessel. As the title track from Gravity plays on my iTunes in my car, I think back to the film, to its themes and to the fierce independence of its main character. I will not discard my self-reliance, as its propelling force has lifted me into this orbit, but my willingness to accept the myriad of changes yet to unfold in my universe remind me that, “You have to learn to let go.”