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Gravity vs. Gravitas

 Written by    October 30, 2013

Suddenly I was spinning uncontrollably through space, and I tried to steady myself on anything I could grasp.

This turned out to be the popcorn-littered armrest of my seat at the AMC Lennox movie theater. It was the 10:30 p.m. showing of Gravity, the new movie that was breaking records and shattering any desire I might have had to become an astronaut.

Having sprung for the 3D showing, the background of space stretched out before me on the huge screen, beautiful and yet foreboding as earth seemed so eerily far away.

The plot of Gravity is well-known to those who have seen the TV commercials and is fairly straightforward, but spoiler alert nevertheless: Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is in space. Some bad stuff happens. She becomes untethered from the space station. George Clooney is in there somewhere.

Now Dr. Stone needs to figure out how to get back home. Did I mention she’s not actually an astronaut? She’s a medical engineer with a whooping six months of space training prior to this mission. Rough.

Gravity is a classic adventure story, (wo)man vs. nature, although in this case it’s not so much nature as the ever decreasing oxygen supply and available methods of transport back to earth. With every minor triumph, another huge obstacle gets dumped in front of our desperate hero, and the situation shifts from hopeful to horrible within seconds.

This movie kept me on edge, but I got something more from this thriller than I thought I would. Somehow, in this Hollywood version of outer space, the story hit some emotional points that were completely on par with my own.

This story is about survival. Seeing the tiny dot of the astronauts next to the huge earth, I felt a little uncomfortable at my own sense of insignificance. Some of the things that I had previously felt were so important, now seemed rather trivial.

Undoubtedly, there are things in my life that hold gravity: my responsibilities, my relationships, and my goals are a few big ones. They are important, they are inescapable, and sometimes they can feel completely beyond my control.

I thought back to untethered Dr. Stone spinning in space. What college freshman hasn’t felt thrown for a loop at some point during these first few months at school? I’ve come untethered from my home, my friends and family, and have hit the ground running in this new land of OSU. I have new responsibilities, and like Dr. Stone, I came in with limited expertise.

If I gave myself too much time to reflect on all of this, it would be a little overwhelming.

There’s the idea of gravitas. It is a manner of being, the opposite of frivolity. Seriousness.

I think I’ve found the perfectly stuffy word to express why all those aforementioned responsibilities can be rough. It can get me stuck in that head-down-get-stuff-done mode that distracts me from all the fun and amazing things I get to do at school.

And although I need that focus sometimes, I don’t want to let the exciting things pass by as I’m getting sucked in by my own self-imposed sense of intimidation.

I cannot ignore gravity. But I can escape the pull of gravitas.


By finding an inner balance, one that reminds me how lucky I am to have all of these things to care about.

(And how lucky I am to be firmly planted on the ground.)


(movie poster from Google)

Advice, Author, Personal, Stress, Student Life

3 Responses

  1. You did a wonderful job with this post, thanks very much.

  2. Veronica says:

    Well done! The balance you describe, although at times elusive, is critical. Sometimes we have to dig in and sometimes we have to sally forth!

  3. Veronica says:

    Well done! Sometimes we forget to celebrate our strengths when we overcome life’s struggles. It is that which gives us the courage to sally forth.

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