I sometimes wonder at the marvel of life as it expresses itself through numerous manifestations. For some inexplicable reasons, a spark of inspiration may sometimes appear from nowhere, when you may even least expect it, and ignite the fire of passion which had previously been subdued for whatever reasons. I, Dr. Sophia Farmer thought of writing this short article in 1985 after I had already established myself as an eminent physicist in the scientific fraternity of America. I was constantly asked to speak about the inspiration behind my success especially in consideration of my unusual social background.
I come from a family of farmers and thus my surname came from there. We inhabited a relatively unknown town in a country known to outside world as Italy. No one in my family had any liking towards formal education. I consider myself fortunate that I was somehow attracted to it. I did complete my high school education, but not without some hard work and effort. I had to travel by bus almost twenty miles every day to reach school. Once the school education got over there was no motivation to continue any further education. Though the interest was there, but the encouragement was missing from parents, friends and relatives. I was associated with the only city library that we had just around the school and I would visit it and bring back books on lease for reading. Physics was an interesting subject for me. The play of various forces and energies I always found amusing.
I never thought of coming this far to America. To speak about my inspiration, well, they say he was weird and absent minded. I guess, it is absolutely true. Any such man whose mind is passionately focused mostly on some particular issue or topic may appear weird to outside world or would rather become absent minded.
It all started from his unexpected visit to our town in 1955. Nobody knew him here. He was a total stranger. He took a house next to our house on rent for few days and was looked after by an attendant. He even brought his dog along with him. Gradually I came to know he loved sailing and relaxing in his boat in the lake during the morning and afternoon along with a notebook. In the evening he would go for a walk along the same lake. He often wrote down something in that notebook and I was not sure about the content. I was later informed that he never learned swimming, but sailing always remained a hobby for him though he never mastered it either. He would often lose his direction and had near collisions with other vessels many times. He had a strange appearance, his bushy hair always appeared uncombed and surprisingly he never wore any socks.
On this specific day he forgot where he kept the house keys after coming back from sailing. My parents saw him struggle outside his rented house and thus invited him home. They introduced each other. Parents were going out and so they left him with me. In the meanwhile his attendant kept on looking for the lost key or maybe he tried breaking the door lock. I was just 18 and he was easily more than thrice my age. I prepared tea and cookies for him. I was not sure what to speak about to this old man. We both sat on the dining table enjoying our tea and snacks in silence.
“You have this nice watch, but without time it is of no use” He made that strange statement looking at a watch, a beautiful gift to my parents from a family friend.
“What do you mean by that?” I asked.
“By time we generally mean past, present and future, don’t we?” He asked.
“Yes, even I know that. What is knew in that?” I asked in surprise.
“There is more to it than what we normally understand” He replied.
“What more?” I asked.
“Do you think that Time remains the same for everyone and changes at the same rate for all?” He asked.
“Yes, it does remain the same?” I replied back confidently.
“What if I tell you that Time is experienced individually by everyone?” He said.
“What that means – My time is different from the time of some other person. That can’t be true” I replied.
“Just think for a second that our movement through space affects the movement of time itself. The faster we move through space the time shall run slowly.” He said.
“Impossible. Why don’t we feel it, if that be the case?” I asked.
“We simply don’t realize it much on earth as we move very slowly here. We shall feel it if we travel very fast.” He said.
“What do you want to say?” I asked him.
“In reality our Past, Present and Future may not be separate at all.” He replied back.
“Do you think I am crazy or something. I am a science student. I read science books. I have read Newton, Faraday, and Edison. Don’t try to fool around with me” I said expressing that I am smart enough even if I am young.
Suddenly this old man who was weird in appearance started looking crazy to me.
“I would say that just imagine that two people sitting one is human on earth and other an alien in the universe at a distance of billion years. Their present moment is fixed. Imagine now the alien move towards earth” he said.
“Then what?” I asked back.
“His present moment shall be different from that man’s on earth and it shall be in future may be around two hundred years in advance.” He replied back.
“What it means?” I asked him.
“This means that all the past, present and future can exist together in our universe.” He replied and then explained in detail in the most basic language.
For next few days he would come, meet me and give me these insights in a way that I would easily grasp. Surprisingly, he would sometimes himself get overwhelmed by all this realization or information and tears would moist his eyes on such occasions. He would often repeat, “I want to know, I want to know”
Why you share it all with me?” I asked him once.
“Because I want to know how it feels to know all this at such a young age. What do you feel?” He asked.
“To be frank, I feel, these are all fabricated stories and there is no truth in them.” I replied.
“You may comprehend the truth if you make effort” he replied back simply.
I did apprehend it later that whatever he explained to me was indeed true and mind boggling as well. Much of it has already been proven through scientific experiments conducted over the years. Though at that point of time I did not accept most of what he shared, but I felt something in that man. A unique kind of passion – I saw people passionate about earning money, about drinking, about visiting new places and making new friends and trying new stuff, but this man was clearly different. He wanted to decipher something and had the excitement and energy of a child whenever he shared something with me.
We spoke again and this time the topic was love. He said, “You remember the last time I told you that as you move faster through space, time moves slower.”
“Yes, I remember that” I replied back.
“Remember that Time is simply a creation of your mind else there is no time, but only a vast stretch of eternity. This applies to love as well. As you move faster and further deeper in love you move beyond mind and ego and thus experience that timelessness. This was experienced by those sages of past including Jesus.” He said.
Though I could not understand his words properly, but I appreciated them for I always felt that he spoke from a deeper realization and a genuine affection. Speaking about the purpose of human existence he once remarked, ‘The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained liberation from the self.’
“Why have you come here to this remote town at such age?” I asked him.
“Because I am a famous man back in that world. They don’t let me live and explore. I get hundreds of letters every day. Someone wants me to become a Christian for propagation of Christianity, some wants me to join their University, some want me to deliver a lecture on the workings of the Universe and some even offered me the presidency of a country. They all want a piece of me.” He replied back
“And what do you want?” I asked him.
“I want to know……..I want to know” He said excitedly.
“You want to know what?” I asked. I heard these words from him often. Whenever I asked he would just avoid replying. But this time he replied.
He stood up, went near the window, gazing out through the window he replied, “I want to grasp the design”
“What design?” I asked him.
“I want to know how the creator designed the universe and how he operates the same through pre-defined natural and scientific laws. I want to understand the marvelous structure of our universe and the importance of our role in it. I merely strive to comprehend a little portion, be it ever so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature. I want to bring it all together in a unified theory.” He remained silent for few seconds, completely absorbed in some thoughts, his hands making slight movements as if conveying something to someone or his own self.
“Are you okay?” After a silence of few seconds I asked him.
“I am like a little child entering a huge library.” He replied back instantly.
“What that means?” I asked back.
“Yes, I am like that child only. He observes that the walls of the library are covered to the ceilings with books in various languages. The child realizes that someone must have compiled these books, but it does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books—-a mysterious order which it does not fully comprehend, but only dimly suspects.” He replied back.
In saying all that he summed up his life’s work. He again explained it to me in terms of forces, energies, matter and vibrations so that I could easily capture the essence. He would explain it all through images and drawings.
“To know the design of creator shall require huge effort, I guess?” I asked back in surprise.
“Yes, it will and one day you may appreciate it” he replied back with a smile.
It was strange that I discussed about Life, Religion, Philosophy, Science, Politics and all other major aspects of our existence with a man I hardly knew much about. He seemed genuinely concerned about our world. He took me for a ride on his boat and gave me few lessons in playing Violin as well. It all felt so good.
“You must be a great man as you know so much?” I said to him.
“I am not great, I am just curious” He replied back.
My father and mother would also enjoy his company and even had their evening tea with him almost every day. He convinced my parents about continuing my education and the bright prospects that it can bring in future. It encouraged my parents to a greater extent. He offered them financial help as well. After twenty days of our regular discussions he left for America. He promised to come back next year. It won’t be an exaggeration here to say that I liked him and I missed his insights about our existing world and its various manifestations (politics, religion, science etc.). He wanted to make it all better and he surely did whatever he could possibly do by means of spreading awareness through writing to prominent people and by interacting with them. He shared all that with me. We remained in touch through letters and I kept him updated about my further education proceedings. I did not expect that he would write back, being a famous man, but he did. There was always encouragement from his side through his letters. He also shared what he was doing and how much has he progressed in terms of realizing his goal.
Ten months had already gone by and he had plans to visit us again in couple of months, he hinted that in his letters, but suddenly and abruptly, he stopped replying to my letters for a brief period and I felt he must be busy. Only after a little research I found that he died. The news was everywhere. He was 76. Life moved on at my end, but I often thought about him. Later, I moved to America on the basis of a scholarship. Much inspired by him and his oceanic understanding, I pursued further education in the field of theoretical physics. It was he who inspired me towards physics and the beauty of universe. I wanted to explore it like him. I wanted to think like him. I wanted to be famous, yet humble like him. More importantly I wanted to become a part of his life’s quest.
As my understanding about him and his contribution grew, I realized that though he did not succeed in what he wanted to know, yet the effort was a beautiful one and in the process he changed our understanding of the universe. I understood later that he was always way ahead of his time. After having become famous for several brilliant breakthroughs in physics he spent the last thirty years of his life on a quest for a way to combine gravity and electromagnetism into a single elegant theory. The knowledge and tools needed to complete a unified theory simply hadn’t been developed before he died in 1955. Today physicists are taking up his remarkable quest and I am proudly one of them. If he would be watching from somewhere it would surely give him pleasure that so many physicists are enthusiastically devoting their careers in pursuing his dream.
He never took any credit for the great work he did. He simply remarked, “The cult of individuals is always, in my view, unjustified. To be sure, nature distributes her gifts unevenly among her children. This has been my fate, and the contrast between the popular estimate of my powers and achievements and the reality is simply grotesque”.
I only gradually perceived his legacy not before he had already inspired me towards my future calling. He was Albert Einstein.
About the Author
Rabjot Singh and is from Jammu City. He has been living and working in New Delhi, India for last more than 8 years. He is an Engineer and a Management graduate by profession and work in an Infrastructure Development Organization based at Delhi. Spirituality, Philosophy, Psychology and various other manifestations of our existence fascinate him and he writes to express deepest of his thoughts. He observes surrounding environment, people and his own self and then express it all through his words. He has written a book earlier and self-published it.