When I think of the “father” or “god” of science only one image comes up. That black and white picture of Albert Einstein with his crazy white hair. You know the one that I am talking about. As a kid I always admired him, I was always in to science and so it was natural that if I was going to praise someone it would be the one and only Einstein. When Albert was a child his parents thought he was slow or mentally retarded because he used to stare and play with a compass for countless hours. What they saw from the outside as mentally challenged was probably just a really gifted child who was slowly figuring out the universe at the age of two. Or something like that.
Now is the part where you start to wonder how this ties in with anything… me too. To really understand Einstein’s theory of relativity, one of the theories he is most recognized for, one might think that you need years and years of schooling plus a rather advanced brain to grasp everything. In some cases this is probably true, to really understand all of the scientific jargon involved you would need to read a lot of books and take a lot of science lab classes but that being said, on a most basic and universal level, the theory of relativity is quite simple. And while Einstein takes credit for it in modern science, the actual idea of relativity has been around for much longer, dating back as far as the original Buddha 3000 years ago when he discovered it.
The best way that it can be demonstrated is the classic train moving scenario. Take two people, one is standing on a moving train with a ball in his hand and the other is standing on the ground watching the train go by. The train has large glass windows so that the observer outside can see everything going on. As the train goes by the outside observer, the person on the train drops the bouncy ball in his hand. The person standing on the train watches the ball fall straight down, hit the ground, and bounce right back up in to his hand. The observer outside of the train sees something a bit different. As the train quickly goes by and the ball is dropped he sees the ball fall in an arch shape going down and bouncing back up with the reverse arch. Question is; when asked how the ball fell which observer is right?
Answer. Relativity of course. The ball falling is relative to the person viewing. And in this way so is life in general. Everything is relative to the person and their own experience. Where some see eating meat as being bad and harmful to animals, others laugh at how silly of a notion that is considering their only chance for survival is to eat meat and what’s more they see animals eating each other all of the time. Some may enjoy spicy food while others think that it is too much. One critic of food may love a dish that I made while another may think it is disgusting. But who is right?
Again, it is relative to the eater. And what is more that response is relative to the way that I choose to see it. I have learned many different ways to cook many different things, but I have also come to understand that within each dish I am making there are about a million different ways to cook it. A French chef may demand one way of holding his knife while cutting, claiming it is the best way, while a Japanese chef may have a completely different opinion and believe his way is the the only “true” way.
As confusing as relativity can be, or as simple, it is quite a beautiful thing. When I was in college my girlfriends Mom at the time was very sick and after having dated her for only a few months her Mom committed suicide. That was hands down one of the most painful experiencing that I have ever gone through, and it wasn’t even my Mom. I couldn’t even imagine what it must have been like for my girlfriend but I saw her going through it all and it made me sick. It confused me, I was upset, I cried, I felt helpless towards her, lost, alone, downright awful. But it was all relative to what I had experienced before. Sure it was not nearly as bad as what she was going through but yet to me it was all that I knew and the pain had never been greater before.
The thing about emotions, no matter how clearly you can see what is right when you feel good, when things start to get to you, when sadness, anger, jealousy, and fear creep in, they have a way of taking control of even the simplest of thoughts. But you can’t always fight them, sometimes just riding them out really helps to calm the waters. And perhaps knowing that you are not the only one feeling the pain, that we all feel what is relative to our lives, that we are all alike in that way, perhaps that is what connects us and keeps life pushing forward.