Commentary by Terry Anker
The law of terminal velocity holds that if an object is falling from a great height, it will gain speed only until it reaches the attraction limit of the gravity pulling it earthward. In other words, the planet is drawing the thing to it (defining its weight). Without gravity, the object would not fall at all – and would have no “weight” in the way we might imagine. Please forgive the physics lesson, but the notion that all things will come to their natural limit is an intriguing one.
Although we may find our constraints at different paces (just like mass and wind-resistance might affect the rate at which our trusty objects achieve terminal velocity), each, in due time, will max out! At a wedding recently, the otherwise lovely outdoor affair was witness to an approaching, and ominous, rainstorm. Even as the staff scurried to move the band and other gear inside before the squall, one imagined what would be the harm if we all got a little wet? In the first moments, we might scramble to protect delicate garments or arrangements of hair. But as the drops came, we’d soon be wet. All wet. So wet that we couldn’t get any wetter. We would achieve the terminal velocity of wetness. We wouldn’t die or drown. We would just be really, really wet.
Could we apply the same concept to others of our fears? Is there a maximum amount of stress someone can take before reaching terminal stressocity – the point where no more can be managed or absorbed? And, if so, should we all relax just a bit knowing that a breaker switch is standing guard? Just as a cup can only hold so much liquid, should we think more about its contents and have less concern for the overflow?