Laurie Anderson described walking as falling forward and then catching yourself, then doing this again and again and again. While I used to marvel at this idea, I’m not sure that I see it as true any longer. Anderson’s model appears to make the assumption that the one motive force on which we can rely is that of gravity. We use the earth’s downward pull to move us forward, stumbling along and barely maintaining our balance at the last minute. Our equilibrium does nothing more than keep us from missing each crucial step and falling headlong to our doom. The model is too reactionary. There’s no real room for will. We simply let ourselves be dragged forward because it’s better than being dragged down.
My walk seems far more forceful than that. I step forward when I mean to and pull my body into place behind the stride. One step follows the other and there is no sense of falling or of being out of control. I don’t just catch myself as I fall forward, but move as I choose to in spite of irrepressible force. Gravity gives me footing and advises me what direction I will fall should my knees buckle or my strength fail. As force, gravity is only input, not motivator.
Perhaps this is merely a shift in my perception - I can move forward without falling flat on my face. Maybe this is not an epiphany, but it did make me feel better.