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  Columnist: Ken Korczak

Is the force of gravity = the force of love ?

Posted on Sunday, 29 April, 2007 | 4 comments
Columnist: Ken Korczak

He had know her for only an hour or two. They met in the city park at a picnic party of a mutual friend. Now he could scarcely believe she had agreed to go alone with him out into the warm summer night, all the way to the pine-shrouded shores of Hayes Lake State Park, Minnesota. From the moment their eyes connected, all normalcy ended. Both of them instantly perceived that force which powers all reality — love — at its most fundamental level. For them, to obey the love that now compelled them seemed more sane than conforming to the proper conventions of society. Was the American genius R. Buckminster Fuller was right? Maybe love and gravity are one and the same force! Irresistible powers of attraction both! What can oppose love and gravity for long? Gravity caused all matter in the universe to come together, to combine, to cling tightly, to create heat, to ignite energy and life. And love … we all know it does the very same! Perhaps intuitively, we use the terms of gravity and love interchangeably: We “fall” in love, we are “attracted” to each other, we “pull” together, a wife "clings" to a husband ...

But let’s get back to our love stricken-couple.

They experienced a crackling electricity radiating from the fact that they were near total strangers, yet they now undeniably and suddenly loved each other beyond imagination, more than hope, with abandon and animation. The night air pressed softly against their skin as they walked through the pine-scented havens of Hayes Lake. Millions of liquid-white moon diamonds melted and then reformed on the satin surface of the water. Gentle wavelets rippled musically, more lovely than Mozart.

They walked together, not touching, not holding hands, which took supreme effort. There was yet a tiny bit of “properness” impinging on their desires after all!

They soon found themselves on a wooden look-out deck suspended high above the silver-dappled water. They turned from the mesmerizing shimmer of the water to face each other. It was time to confront this astounding power. It would almost have been easier to run from it, but that they just couldn’t do.

He said: “Maybe it’s this enchanted night that is working so much magic on us. Maybe it’s the dreadful thing I have to do tomorrow. But this place right now, is like a dream place, a fantasy forest by an unreal lake of light.”

She replied: “I’m aware of it, too. I feel like I’ve lost all control. I can’t just walk away from this. It’s like something irresistible is pulling on me”

With that statement, she weakened, and so did he. He drew his arm around her shoulder. Touching her sent currents through his arms, through his body. She became supple and relaxed herself into his embrace. She pulled away just slightly and turned her face up toward his. He kissed her delicately. He kissed her again. Then a third time. Then she kissed him back even more tenderly, and then she kissed him again. They clung closely and looked out onto the shimmering lake -- they perceived a stillness that mysteriously filled everything. It was a dynamic stillness!

Glancing over at her, he was astonished to notice for the first time that she had luxuriant brown eyes, almond in shape - she was Asian! Astounding! How could he have missed something as fundamental as her race all this time! Such a distinction was just so meaningless in the glare of their open souls! He touched her silken hair, jet black, absorbing moonlight with a sheen.

Her physical beauty was almost more than he could grasp. So much could not fit into his heart!

Finally she said: “I can’t tell you how stunned I am to find myself with your here. On some level it seems so strange. I don’t even know who you are! Is this real? What will we say tomorrow?”

But the thought of “tomorrow” intruded into his mind like a shard of dirty glass, stabbing abruptly into the warm tissue of his heart. For tomorrow he would be leaving for the jungles of a far-off land where he would have to fight a deadly battle with a determined enemy he knew almost nothing about.

Tomorrow he would leave for Vietnam.

From somewhere, an irony he could not yet understand prodded at him: this overpowering, irresistible love for an Asian woman, possibly of the same race as the people he must fly off toward tomorrow — to fight and kill.

How could this be an accident? He pushed the feeling out of his mind. He was too young and innocent to think through such intellectual subtleties anyway. What he perceived with his heart he could not get around with his mind — yet this ironic meaningfulness would never leave him.

A moment passed. Tomorrow he would be going to Vietnam, but here now in this eternal moment he was with her, this stunning woman — the completion of his all his unfinished portions — so suddenly materialized magically before him. Why would God do this? Why consummate these two people, only to rip them apart hours later?

They stood holding each other, possibly thinking the same thought, though neither of their young minds were trained to handle such tangled intrigues of fate. She broke from him and walked off the wooden platform and moved toward the beach. He was still for a few seconds, then followed her. He came to stand behind her on the beach, close by the water. She turned, and again they embraced. They reclined on the soft sand of the beach. Near the shore, under the stars, under the moonlight … like the Earth hugs all people warmly and safely to herself with gravity, so they held to each other warmly and safely with love.

They never saw each other again.

The next day, if a haze of fatigue and unimaginable heartache — with the severe pain of separation from mother, brothers, sisters, home, town, and a total love that came suddenly and abruptly vanished — he flew off to his military base, and numbed himself for war.


… in the Minnesota’s oldest city, on the shores of the Mississippi ...

Long returned from the jungles of “Nam,” he now found himself a broken “old man” among a group of mostly frisky college kids working part-time evenings selling newspaper subscriptions by telephone.

Every time a sale was made, the supervisor gave the telemarketer a quarter. The quarter was carried to a tall, fat jar filled with water. At the bottom of the jar was a shot glass. If you dropped the quarter into the water and your quarter lilted down into the shot glass — you got double the commission on your sale.

For our Vietnam Vet, it was a mild humiliation, but he made six sales that night, and every time, trudged up to the jar for a chance at doubling his commission. He couldn’t come up with a good reason not to do it, so he just did it. He dropped his six quarters into the water and smiled lamely when two of the six hit the mark.

The college punks watched his facial expressions with wry amusement — or maybe it was pity. Even a bunch of comfortable college kids could see that he was a wreck, a shabby dresser, a loner, most likely a drunk. He was pasty white, balding, and wore thick, old-fashioned glasses that always seemed slightly smeared. He was only 36, but looked 46, or 56. To the college kids, he seemed a chronic underachiever of some kind, a waste, or who knows what.

But what the carefree college kids didn’t know this: This man had pulled two years of combat in the nightmare jungles of Vietnam, confronting death, and the wild, senseless chaos of war. The first Asian person he had ever met, he had loved energetically with all his being — the next several thousand Asian people he met all carried the face of insane death, insane fear, and perhaps worst of all, a kind of alien “otherness.”

Furthermore, the college boys and girls didn’t know this: In Vietnam he was shot in the head. His brain was damaged, but he retained most of his “normal” mind and facilities. His soul was another matter. That was damaged beyond his ability to heal itself completely.

After the war he didn’t go back to his home town in Northern Minnesota. He didn’t want everyone to see what he had become. He drifted from job to job and drank a lot of alcohol every night. At one point he finally got enough control over himself to get hired as a cab driver in Winona. He stopped drinking, started to improve a little, but after a couple of years on the job, and while transporting a passenger, an artery inside his brain burst, rendering him unconscious.

Luckily for him and his terrified passenger it was wintertime. When the cab veered off the street and plowed out onto the barren ice of Lake Winona, it was thick enough to prevent the cab from plunging through the frozen surface, possibly sending driver and his fare to frigid deaths.

After the incident, his driver’s license was suspended, and he was reduced to the kind of jobs where the best incentive to be hoped for were to be given a quarter which could be dropped into a big jar of water to see if you could get lucky enough to be granted an extra three dollars.

One night at the newspaper job during the coffee break, our Vet was sitting off to the side and alone, when he overheard one of the college guys say that he was from northern Minnesota, from the small town of Greenbush. In the parking lot after work, he approached the young man and said: “I overheard you saying you’re from Greenbush?”

The young man said: “Yes. It’s hard to believe I’m 500 miles from home, yet still living in the same state!”

The Vietnam Vet said: “I’m from northern Minnesota, too. I grew up just 20 miles from your home town. You want to go out for a drink?”

The young man said: “Sure, why not.”

They went to one of Winona’s numerous blue-collar corner bars, redolent in the kind of shabby seediness that makes them irresistible in character, an atmosphere, of fading Americana. After a couple of beers and exchanging some stories about their former northern Minnesota stomping grounds, the Vet learned that the student was a journalism major, and was thinking about a career in writing.

He became strangely silent after this, saying next to nothing through a couple more beers. The student started to get a bit restless, although he took a sympathetic liking to this man, obviously soaked in sadness and tragedy. There was also that certain camaraderie felt between to displaced people who grew up in the same corner of the world and were now far from home.

Finally the Vet said: “You know where Hayes Lake State Park is?”

“Of course,” the student said. “It’s only about 35 miles from Greenbush.”

Again, the Vet was silent for a long period of time, and he seemed to be struggling with deep, inner feelings. The student knew that he was attempting to open up in some significant way, and though he felt a bit uncomfortable, he decided to see what he had to say.

Finally, with a trembling voice, the Vet mentioned a certain picnic party at the city park which seemed like an endless eternity of years ago, at which he met an achingly lovely young Asian woman who agreed to go with him to Hayes Lake State Park that same night.

For more than an hour, the student listened to his story — poorly told and rambling, and often filled with pathetic, drunken, teary digressions — yet with a genuine emotion and conviction that made the garbled tale strangely effective, striking and difficult to forget.

At about midnight they were both fairly drunk. The watery 3.2 tap beer began to taste like the afterwash from a dog basin. They finally stepped out of the bar, and on the dark street under a purple mercury-vapor light fluttering with insects, the Vietnam Vet grabbed the student’s elbow and said:

“Anyway, if you’re going to be a writer some day, maybe you can write about her and me, our one night at Hayes Park together … you know … about love, about what love really is. About how strange it is. Somebody should know about it. Even though my life is a mess now, I know there’s something big out there in the universe, something big and powerful, something to do with love. It’s powerful, like ... like gravity. Do you think you can ever write about that, about my girl? About love? About love being a force .. some kind of energy force ... as powerful as gravity?”

The student said: “I’ll try someday.”

“You promise, Ken?” he said.

“Yes,” I said. “I promise.”

Ken invites you to visit his blog:

Article Copyright© Ken Korczak - reproduced with permission.

Ken Korczak is the author of Minnesota Paranormala:

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It was only a matter of time before my 40 years of Ouija Board practice collided with my 30-year hobby of lucid dreaming. In the lucid dream state, I often meet...

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