All of us have had the experience of falling, and we fall just like apples. We don’t have to speculate about how apples fall as though examining a specimen under a microscope, because we can see the event “falling” from the inside. Before we study science or philosophize about nature, even as children we grasp the falling of other bodies by sympathy, by identifying imaginatively with the falling object sometimes even to the point of feeling vertigo when we see an object fall from a great height or flinching when we see bodies about to collide.
From this insider’s perspective, we know that there is a big difference between falling and being pushed. When I am pushed, pulled, or thrown, the experience is of having something done to me. But when I roll off a ledge and fall, the sensation is of my own body falling. The falling comes somehow from within; it is my body’s own thing.
But we must attend carefully here: each of us is a house divided. While the body rushes downward, some inner animal claws and scratches to prevent the fall. Think of the high dive: I walk to the edge, look down, and my reason issues an order to my limbs: “Jump!” And yet I do not jump, because animal-me cringes away from the dizzying height to cling to the diving board. This same animal-me resists mightily when I roll off a ledge: rational-me may judge that everything will be fine; mineral-me falls from within; but animal-me cries out in betrayal. The desires of the mineral are against the animal, and the desires of the animal are against the mineral.
So when I say that the body falls of itself, this is not to say that everything within me owns the fall. But beneath my animal outrage at the victory of my lowest nature, I can still see that there is a vital difference between falling and being pushed or pulled. It’s all the same to animal-me: push, pull, or fall, animal-me resists with tooth and claw. But the experience is entirely different for that side of me that I share with the rocks. At that level, the falling is mine: I own it. (Jeremy Holmes)