Friday, December 7, 2018
Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman
My son came over yesterday and wanted to talk about our favorite childhood memories. I assume he is on some kind of new pop-psychology self-help kick or something. Anyway, his wistful reminiscences about time reminded of me this book, so I re-read it while I was smoking a brisket. It's not too long, which makes it suitable for today's youth. But you have to stop and think at times, so that rules out most of you. In the novel, Einstein imagines all kinds of different worlds where time functions differently - time goes forward, backward, moves out in concentric circles, stops randomly, is a function of altitude, etc. Nice stuff to imagine, actually, although it seemed to lack what may be the true experience of time, which is that it is a function of age. You will possibly understand this when you are older, but no guarantees. As a child, time scarcely even exists. I can remember running home from school, playing stickball in the street until dusk, swinging by the deli to try to get a discount knish before they closed, falling asleep the minute my head hit the pillow, and waking the next day hardly distinguishing it from the last. Time really has no meaning until you have a true sense of the impermanence of life. When Eleanor and I were young, with two babies, we finally knew that feeling. We savored each day with them, but we knew it was temporary and that time was slowly pulling them away from us. And each year it got faster and faster. When Eleanor got sick, it was like a freight train hurtling into the distance, and I never caught up. And what now? When there is less to lose, time slows down again, and you find yourself just waiting around to die. But fuck all that - time for brisket!