Escape Velocity: Allowing Myself to Take Flight

(Originally published on Papa Used to Say on July 16, 2019.)

I never had the chance to see a space shuttle liftoff in person, but someone once told me it jumps off the launch pad like a bullet. On TV it always appeared a bit sluggish to me for the first few seconds, but in reality, just 30 seconds after liftoff it’s already traveling 500 mph.

In fact, for a spacecraft to enter orbit it needs to reach speeds of 25,000 miles per hour. That’s fast…like 7 miles per second fast. Achieving this speed has been considered one of the most technically challenging aspects of space travel. It’s called “escape velocity,” which is defined as the minimum speed an object needs to travel to escape the gravitational pull of a massive body, such as the earth.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the things that hold us down as individuals, the invisible forces that weigh on us when we want nothing more than to soar into orbit. I personally face this feeling regularly. It might be at a dinner party where I want to fully participate, but because of the company, the topic or just my mood, I feel stuck, unable to smile or laugh. It might be at a concert or at a wedding, where I want to let loose and dance, to just let my body react casually and naturally to the music, but I feel restrained, as if I’m in a straitjacket.

It’s a feeling of being bound, of being unable to outwardly express emotion, positive or negative. It’s a sense of lacking permission to be free, to experience levity, as if it’s not deserved. It’s a self-imposed yet deeply unwanted heavy, tense emotional flatness. And it sucks. (Continue reading at Papa Used to Say…)

Jamie Bornstein is the founder of Mental Health Safe Space. He lives in Sharon, MA with his wife and three children. He is the Senior Director of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, North America. He can be reached at mhsafespace@gmail.com.

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