Sorry, world, but you missed it. You had your chance and I blew it.
I will always regret what didn’t happen, but the road to hell is laid out in regrets. Or is that intentions?
What am I talking about? Last night — and this is God’s own truth — I dreamed that I understood completely and clearly Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. It was so darned simple. A kindergarten student could have understood it the way I could have explained it.
What I will do, I said to myself in the wee small hours, is get up in the morning as early as possible and write it all in my column for next week. Everyone will benefit from this incredible breakthrough in popular science. I won’t even charge any more for this column than for any ordinary column.
I awoke the next morning — which was yesterday’s column day — with the marvelous feeling that I was about to do something wonderful for mankind, and possibly womankind as well. I struggled with trying to remember what it was and for an agonizing few moments I could not.
Then it came! Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. I understood it totally and completely and was about to reveal it in a few short sentences to the most fortunate column readers on the face of the Earth.
You’ve had these wonderful dreams in which you’ve captured this absolutely rapturous and beautiful feeling with some devine creature of the opposite sex (your spouse, of course). Or you’ve had a 40 pound Atlantic salmon dancing on the end of your line for 30 minutes. Or you’ve just won a $40-million lottery. Nah, on second thought, that doesn’t begin to compare with the first two.
You know already that the emotions engendered by the first two experiences in the preceding paragraph last about as long as it takes to open your eyes. You remember for some hours that you had those feelings, but the dreamlike effects are gone forever.
The dream itself is gone and you can’t remember enough about it to tell anyone else. It disappears faster than a ... a ..., a dream.
That’s how it was with Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. You’ll be surprised to learn I couldn’t remember one damn thing about it when I became fully awake. I was so disappointed I almost cried, not for me, you understand, but for you and what you had missed.
Well, not every damn thing. I did remember, if I don’t have it screwed up already, that the faster something moves, the slower time passes. And that time, motion and space are all irrevocably interconnected, which is what relativity refers to — I think.
So there you are. The whole thing slips away like a dry leaf in an autumn wind, like a delicate snowflake on a mild day, like a lover’s kiss on a warm night.
Gee whiz, that last paragraph is beautiful stuff. Almost as good as remembering Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. But I’ll still get paid the same cheap remuneration as always for this column. What I should do is write a collection of poems entitled “Recollections of a Warm Night.”
Wordsworth said poetry is emotion recollected in tranquility, so I’d be right on, wouldn’t I. (If sometime in the next 10 years I see a collection of poetry, especially from any poet on the west coast of this island, entitled “Recollections of a Warm Night,” I’m going to sue.)
Other Half, after she reads this, will ask as she invariably does, “What is the point you’re trying to make here?” And I will answer, as I invariably do, “I can’t believe you don’t see it!” Then I will retire in wounded silence and search mightily among my words for a point.
English teachers to the contrary, it is so much easier to write without a point than with one. I can have a whole column written in the time it takes me to simply find a point to write about. I am of the persuasion that Webster’s dictionary could have been the result of an explosion in a printing factory.
I know, I used that example to support my position on something else just a few weeks ago.
The point, of course, (aha, a point!) is that Webster’s dictionary has no point. It’s just a collection of words, but who would dispute its value and importance, even without a point?
Now that I’ve made that point, let’s return to the column.
The point, and it’s a very sad one, is that you can’t hold on to your dreams. Before you say, “But ...,” understand I’m talking about night dreams here, and not reaching-your-goal dreams or foolishness like that.
And the more beautiful they are, and the more they move you, and the more you want to hang on to them, the more ethereal they turn out to be. Grasping them for more than five seconds would be like trying to grab a fistful of fog, although it’s sometimes thick enough over St. John’s East to do exactly that.
I don’t know how deeply dreams are rooted in reality, if at all. I will tell you this, and it’s the gospel truth, after 12 years of living in a wheelchair and not being able to move a muscle below my chest, I have never dreamed that I am in a wheelchair or cannot walk. Never.
In all my dreams I am walking, running, fishing, hunting and doing all these things with my father who has passed, and my son and granddaughter who are still with us. I cannot explain that, except that in the morning my actual physical state is sometimes a painful reminder of what used to be.
Sorry I can’t tell you the full meaning of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, clearly and concisely.
You probably wouldn’t understand it, anyway.
Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org