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Why Am I Here?

By Ray Lesser

The man who invented gravity was in town and I had third-row seats to hear him speak. This guy was my hero; I mean gravity certainly changed my life. Before gravity, I couldn’t hold down a job. I was floating around with no future, no prospects, no roots. But then I discovered gravity and suddenly landed on my two feet. I became much healthier, started putting on weight, both physically and psychologically. I added gravitas and people began to pay attention to me. I was a presence instead of an absence and when I bumped into someone, they stayed bumped into.

For me, gravity was the greatest thing since sliced bread. It was bigger than the wheel, and I love wheels almost as much as I love rainbows and sunshine. Gravity really set me on my path to success, and here was the creator himself, ready to divulge even more of his heavy-duty wisdom to the public, and I was lucky enough to be part of that sold-out audience.

But I had an awful feeling almost immediately after he began speaking. He was one of these guys who couldn’t give a presentation without reading from his speech. He came out, put on his reading glasses and after the thunderous applause died down, he stuck his speech on the lectern and began to drone on and on in a completely flat monotone, reading it word for word. I believe that the best presentations are spontaneous ones — they come straight from the heart. You should use the energy of the audience to help direct you, to guide you, to inspire you.

But the Gravity Guru never responded to the energy in the room. His presentation came straight from a research paper that he’d published in some weighty scientific journal. It was mind-numbingly complicated and unapproachable. After five minutes or so, I could see the entire audience had moved from their standing ovation to the edge of their seats at the start of the talk, and had now collectively slumped back in their chairs, slack-jawed and drooling. He had lost us all and there was no prospect that he would ever get us back.

And that’s when I had a huge argument with myself: Why was I here? Yes, I’d paid good money for this seat and had expectantly waited months for this evening to arrive. But now I was bored out of my mind. How soon could I leave?

My brain said, “Let’s get out of here before I flat-line and someone declares me legally dead.”

My leg said, “I’m going to sleep. I need to stand up and walk around soon or else you can just saw me off.”

My nose said, “This guy next to me smells like he hasn’t showered in a month, and instead he sprays on a fresh coating of underarm deodorant every time he goes out in public.”

My foot began tapping on the floor, “Anytime you want to go, I’m ready. Or else I could just kick the seat in front of me a few times and see if I can stir up some excitement.”

My elbows said, “Maybe if we start a little tussle for the armrests, it’ll turn into a bigger fight that will eventually draw in the whole crowd for a brawl. Then you can just slip out the emergency exit without anyone noticing.”

But my cheapskate chimed in, “You paid a lot of money for this ticket. You can’t just leave now.”

My skin said, “You’ve completely overdressed for this thing. A jacket and a tie? Who is this guy, your grandmother? I am suffocating. I’ve got to get out of here and get some air.”

My throat said, “I’m parched. Did you bring any water?”

My mind agreed, “How about some Scotch? Did you bring a flask? No? Well, I saw a bunch of bars across the street from this mortuary. Please, get us out of here!”

My back said, “I can’t sit here anymore. I’ve been sitting at a computer all day long. I really need to stretch or I think I’ll start going into spasms. Is there gravity involved in that in some way? Is that any part of this sermon?”

But my superior self scolded, “If you would just stop fidgeting and pay closer attention, you might learn something profound!”

My private parts said, “Maybe it’s not too late to arrange a romantic evening. You can’t blame her for not wanting to go to a lecture about gravity. But if you leave right now, you could call and invite her to meet you at the reggae concert. They have gravity there, too, you know.”

Then my stomach started growling, “You know you skipped dinner to come here early for this thing. Leave right now and you can run next door to the convenience store and get a bag of potato chips.”

My mouth started to water, “Oh please, what are you waiting for?”

But my conformist worried, “What’ll other people think if you just get up and walk out on one of the greatest minds of the century?”

Then my stomach started growling louder and louder and chanting a chorus with my mouth and my nose and even my muscles, “Potato chips, potato chips, potato chips …”

Suddenly my legs jumped up and began pushing me past the comatose crowd, toward the aisle. My feet hit the carpet and nearly sprinted toward the exit sign. My pride said, “Slow down, they’re going to think you need to throw up or something.” But it was too late for that. Within minutes, I was standing on the sidewalk, undoing my tie and munching a bag of chips. It turned out to be an enlightening night, after all.

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