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What are you thinking?

Notes from Anythink's director

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a nice girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.” – Albert Einstein

Have you ever had mornings where everything is in sync? You have time to read the paper, have a cup of coffee, get ready for work and when you look at the clock, there’s time to spare? This experience happens rarely, but when it does I note that I am having one of those days where time works for me. This is unlike the usual rush, knowing that I am going to once again be pushing the clock. The adrenalin just can’t pump fast enough to get everything done, much less have time to pause for breakfast.

I cannot begin to explain Einstein’s theory of relativity, but his quote seems to center his basic idea. Alan Lightman wrote a mesmerizing novel about Einstein’s ideas as he was thinking about his theory of relativity, Einstein’s Dreams. It is a series of short chapters that capture the dreams of Einstein while he was working through these ideas.

In his dreams, Einstein explores time as if it were a globe that you turn upside-down and sideways. Some of his dreams/daydreams:

  • Imagine time as a circle. It goes around and experiences repeat themselves. The cycle of the day reoccurs, the patterns repeat.
  • The passing of time brings order. Time creates structure. There are people who let time dictate their lives. The alarm rings, the day starts. One punches the time clock in, then out. Time for dinner, then time for bed. The day is over.
  • Time for others is imagination.
  • Time is borderless, an endless vision of possibility.
  • Time is connected to the seasons. Time is erratic in the spring. Time is held in a state of animation in the winter. Time is lazy in summer. One wants to hold onto time in the fall.
  • “Imagine a world where there is not time – only images.” A stream of consciousness, remembering the past and imagining the future.
  • What if time passes more slowly for people in motion? Speed becomes the norm to slow the passage of time.
  • “Suppose that time is not a quantity but a quality, like the luminescence of the night above the trees just when a rising moon has touched the tree line. Time exists, but it cannot be measured.”

How do we perceive time? Does it dictate our lives or create freedom?

Thank you, Alan Lightman and Albert Einstein.

Send your questions or feedback to ithink@anythinklibraries.org or post in the comments below.