Once a gazelle found itself in a state of suspended animation. Such a predicament was unheard of for gazelles, known as they were for bounding along with their companions in graceful, free-and-easy arcs that looked for all the world like a gravity-defying ballet. What had stopped this one in midleap, ironically, was the sudden thought that its sheer glee in defying gravity might be shortsighted. Who could really defy gravity for any length of time, after all? Eventually every good leap must come to an end and even a gazelle find itself pulled back to earth. Wasn’t there something empty, in that case, about the herd’s ceaseless gamboling about? But then, what could match the wild beating of a gazelle’s heart as it neared the top of its bound? What could rival the feeling of every sinew and muscle stretched to the full in pure physical joy? But then again, shouldn’t such breathtaking vaults possess some meaning that transcended the inevitable return to earth? Was the joy that ran through every fiber of the gazelle’s body in fact only a blind indulgence in sensory pleasures that had no justification beyond itself? Satisfactions promised by the life of the mind might be more lasting and significant. Still, giving up physical delights in response to the appeal of the intellect, turning from the triumph of the flesh to transcendent insight, what guarantee did the gazelle have it wouldn’t come to regret that too? How far could ideas alone carry one in comprehending what it meant to be fully alive? In sum, the gazelle’s body and mind were at such odds with one another that movement of any sort had simply become impossible. Would this stalemate in every nerve render its powerful legs frail and useless in time, as the constant workings of its mind threatened to paralyze it as well? If so, and if the gazelle ever did suddenly dropped to earth, the odds of landing on its feet might be no greater than those of ending up on its head. Given that possibility, the gazelle supposed it might have to resign itself to an existence up in the air like this. There’d be no unbridled celebration of the senses anymore, to be sure, but no endless cerebral reaching either. Or, to put it the other way around, there’d be freedom from the constant strain to understand in exchange for an end to sensual bliss. Suspended animation as a way of life.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans