The Law of Falling Objects

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I. The Dark Side of the Moon

The old villa creaked slowly, hauntingly, as the heavy winds ravaged the open fields. A man is visible a ways outside of this villa. This man, a soon-to-be father known to most as Vincenzo is pacing the length of the walk, dreading the return home. As the daylight begins to fade, he wraps his cloak tighter around his form and shuts the door behind him.
It was on this stormy night in 1564, the 15th of February that I was born.

And now, because I am at the end, facing the end; I choose now, to turn back to the beginning. My early years are blurred in my memory. Few glimmerings stand out. I was so young and full of every stupid fancy that fills us all in childhood. I believed I was destined to change the world. My greatest fear who to be forgotten. And although I planned to have the world at my fingertips- there was so much I never learned, so much I’ve never seen, never felt, never knew. I’ve never seen the ocean before. That I remember quite well.
I was the first of six. We were poor. My father played music. The rest is a vague, bittersweet haze of incorrigible curiosity. In the spring of 1581 I began my studies at the university in Pisa where my family hoped I would study medicine. I studied physics and the works of men far greater than my time. My first truest memory was of a lamp. I watched, transfixed as it swung. Propelled by a force of nature, it swung unceasingly; swung back and forth. I’ve never seen the ocean. But I imagine waves must possess the same motion. Back and forth, back and forth, propelled by some invisible force. How far does a pendulum swing? How far does an ocean spread? Does the pendulum speed up or slow down? Do the waves in the ocean ever change? All my life I have always been taught math and science and medicine and the supposed important things in life. But what about motion? What about the stars? The sun? The moon? What about the places I’ve never been? The oceans I’ve never seen? There is an entire universe filled with things that are every bit as important as math, science, and medicine.

What about the dark side of the moon; the dark side that no one has ever seen? Is it as smooth and perfect as I dreamed? Are the stars, the moons, the planets- celestial spheres whose surface is marred by naught in its take on perfection? Is anything as they say? I’ve never seen the ocean. I’ve never seen the moon. I could fill planets full of the things that I know nothing about. I realized then, that changing the world is impossible. It was all I could do to not let it change me. I’m a selfish person by nature. I want, more than anything else, to know the truth. I want to know all there is to know about the things just as important as math, science, and medicine. Not for the sake of religion, not for the sake of medicine, not for the sake of saving lives and reaching glory; just for me, for my sake.

II. The Inquisition

I used to be afraid that after I was gone no one would remember me. My name would fade into the backdrop, my works, my achievements; all that I have worked for would mean nothing as the days go by. I would be forgotten by the generations and my value as a person would deteriorate with time. I wanted to be remembered as an un-expendable force, without whom the world would have lost so much. But now, my life is over. I am truly facing the end. Tomorrow, they will convene for my trial. And they will demand an answer. Did I have enough conviction in my beliefs to throw away my life for the truth? Ahead of me the pendulum swings. I am asked to choose between living and the things that make my life worth living. Back and forth. In the end…in the end, I am nothing but a fool. An old fool. A fool who believed he could change the world with a few clumsy concepts of truth. Back and forth. A broken fool, who would rather waste his life, be locked away than face the inevitable end. And I’m so scared. So terrified of what lies ahead. But I know now that the right thing, the wrong thing, the best thing, the worst thing…all of it means nothing. For once, I do not want to be remembered. I do not want the world to remember just how weak and expendable I really am. My last wish, my dying wish is that when I go, the world can look the other way. And then, maybe, years later, someone who did not know me, a stranger, could look at the things I believed in and see what I am worth. And though I am a selfish person by nature, I hope that one day it won’t matter how selfish I am or how weak I’ve become. Because I am scared. So terrified of the unknown. I don’t even have the ability to believe in myself. My life will end much as it began, in the windy, cold settings of oblivion. My last wish, my dying wish is that when I go, the world can look the other way.
Because I am a weak, selfish old fool. And that is how I should be remembered.

III. The Remains

In the summer of 1992, after a long, meeting spanning from the early morning to the late night, Galileo Galilei was finally cleared of treason to the church. Years, decades, centuries before, this might have made a difference. He is remembered today as a scientist and a scholar who radically changed the world with his beliefs. We remember him at his best. We remember what he believed. He believed in the rough surface of the moon, the steady swing of the pendulum; he believed in the oceans he’s never seen and the things he’d never known and though he choose to recant, though he choose to live, we are all strangers now and perhaps somehow, someone will recognize the value in his words and look upon his memory fondly.
Galileo Galilei went silently, without a trace. His dying wish. But he will be remembered as one of the most enlightened men of his time. There are even, on occasion


… flowers on his grave.





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