sharonlin

United States

I'm a 17-year-old writer, developer, and activist. I write creative nonfiction, poetry, and prose, although I've also dabbled in other writing forms (http://sharonlin.me/writing). I live in NYC/NJ and enjoy animation, design, and photography.

Message from Writer

Chaser of dreams and lover of chai.
I live in the big city and climb mountains on the weekends.
Feel free to find me online @sharontlin.

Einstein's Dreams

September 20, 2016

“Suppose time is a circle, bending back on itself. The world repeats itself, precisely, endlessly.”

A woman ambling along Marktgasse, a man who is unable to age, a boy who sees into the future and then into the past - the fantastic dreams recollected by renowned physicist and theorist Albert Einstein inspire even the least imaginative minds, and yet hold an inexplicable truth. While even the scientifically illiterate may recognize Einstein for his more famous work on the theory of special relativity, his groundbreaking papers written in the early 1900s are often forgotten. Nonetheless, as Alan Lightman shows through his critically-acclaimed masterpiece, there is often much to be revered in the unforeseen.

Einstein's Dreams transports readers to 20th century Bern, the home of a young Einstein during his early years as a patent examiner. In a series of lyrical accounts, Lightman imagines the fictional worlds of Einstein's mind, playing around with the ideas of relativity as casually as a poet with words. Nonetheless, his novel extends far beyond the realm of physics, encountering philosophical and ethical dilemmas that, while fiction, bring forth considerations into our own lives - for instance, if we had the choice to force time to stand still, would we be able to do so?

He reveals hidden puzzles and challenges that delve into the human spirit. Whether it is a world where time is measured by distance from the earth, where the passage of time is observed as a sense, or even where time exists in the form of a dove, his inhabitants reveal insightful realizations on our own perspectives on our perceptions of our lives. 

In a particular scene, a man is left to wonder about his choices - whether to see the girl he loves or to forget her existence and move on. His destiny splits into two, as his separate selves each take on one course of action, only to live out their sorrows in parallel. The consequences of their lives - and by corollary our own - being infinite replicas, drive apart by even the simplest of decisions, is both humbling and frightening, demonstrating the depth of humanity that Lightman is willing to traverse in order to express Einstein's emotions during his own years in solitude.

The novel holds a labyrinthine quality to its traversal through time - as the dreams progress, Einstein's own life moves forward in a series of interwoven encounters with his close friend Michele Besso. The offsetting differences between worlds provides a whimsical and thoughtful change from traditional storytelling, and yet are not so far-fetched to be impossible to imagine in our own world. 

At its core, Lightman's novel is a pristine poetic tribute to the groundbreaking concepts of Einstein's work - on a deeper level, it's a revealing consideration of how narrow our perspectives are on our lives, and how little we actually understand about the universe. The story forces us to ask ourselves how we'd act if our own world was conceived in a different time, in a different realm, and whether we'd hold true to our own selves if we were unable to perceive our lives as they are. While the dreams may be representative of worlds far from our own, the lessons they hold may in fact bring us closer to our own lives, and reveal truths amidst the mysteries we seek to uncover.

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