Book II Chapter Six — Albert Einstein
The property here is surrounded by snow covered mountains glistening in the gentle rising of the sun. I am making my way to the highest point of the range at around 12000 feet. This journey is one of my periodic rituals to watch the sun glow beneath the clouds and then rise above them to light and warm the valley. Although my breathing is a bit labored, the temperature is perfect for my morning adventure. On this day I feel my two legs could carry me anywhere, to any continent, to any sphere in space but for today they need only carry me to the top of this mountain.
As I leave the tree line and the precious sounds of life accompanying me on my journey thus far, I walk pass the beaver den as the mother and two kits come out to greet me. The small lake formed as a result of their damn will provide a safe and protected spawning area for the returning salmon. The dense forest gives way to sparse meadows and rushing streams. The rock formation ahead tells me the end of the trail is near. It is dawn as I make my way around the rocks to the east side of the range. Sometime ago I imagined and created a meditation shed on the bluff of this mountain, above the falls, facing east for myself and the guests to use. It is a wooden cabin closed on three sides with open windows to the east. The roar of the waterfall falls flowing underneath the structure adds to its mystery and ambiance. All is silent once inside.
As my eyes adjust to the darkness of the cabin and I move toward my favorite spot, I see a familiar face. He awakens from his meditation and acknowledges me as we are the only two in the hall at this time.
“Thank you for meeting me here Socrates. This is one of my favorite places of the many beautiful places here on the grounds and at the Inn. My imagination flys here above the clouds and yet I sit on solid ground. The sounds of the falls are lost in the sounds of silence. The winds whisper. The clouds float. The sunrises are always most beautiful during the new moon phrase. It is as if the she shines more brightly to make up for the moon’s absence. Don’t you agree my friend?”
“I do. The sun does seem to shine brighter. Good Morning Albert. I trust the trail here was not too arduous. I am always surprised so many of the guests come here. When I imagined this meditation hall, I purposely blended it into the mountainside and made it small so as not to conflict with nature. Still, when I come here I experience the same largeness of wonder I experience when standing on the shore looking out over the ocean.”
“As I believe my friend, if one looks deeply into nature, then you will understand everything better.”
“That is true Albert. You are as much the philosopher as the man of science. I am pleased to know this side of you. It adds to your aire of mystique.”
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”
“Fortunately our eyes are open enough to take in this wonder.” We both pause our conversation to watch the sun rise through the clouds and light the sky. The golden rays reaching like giant arms across the vast sky absorbing the darkness which covered the land.”
“You know Socrates. You and I are very much alike in many ways.” Says Albert. “We are both men who cherish our solitude and alone time. My passionate interest in social justice and social responsibility has always stood in curious contrast to a marked lack of desire for direct association with men and women. I am a horse for single harness, not cut out for tandem or teamwork. I have never belonged wholeheartedly to country or state, to my circle of friends, or even to my family. These ties have always been accompanied by a vague aloofness and the wish to withdraw into myself increases with the years. Such isolation is bitter, but I do not regret being cut off from the understanding and sympathy of other men. I lose something by it to be sure, but I am compensated for it in being rendered independent of the customs, opinions and prejudices of others, and am not tempted to rest my peace of mind upon such shifting foundations.”
“Well said Albert. We both function independently of other’s shifting foundations. Most have difficulty understanding this aspect of our nature, but we see and recognized it in each other because it exists in each so strongly. Like you, I have never belonged anywhere but here. And I must ask, if not mankind, what or who guides you?”
“The ideals which have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. The trite subjects of human efforts, possessions, outward success, luxury have always seemed to me contemptible.”
“I would add fame to that list of trite contemptibles.” I say.
“Yes. We should add fame to that list. Worshipped today, scorned or even crucified tomorrow, that is the fate of people whom—God knows why—the bored public has taken possession of.”
We both sit quietly for a while and take in the beauty unfolding before our eyes.
“You created this glorious place Socrates for us to to be inspired again by life. The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination and you my friend are very imaginative.”
“Thank you for that compliment Albert. It is my honor and pleasure to have you here as my guest. I need to be reminded of the role and importance of imagination in life.”
“My pleasure Socrates.”
“Speaking of imagination. I know you are a great lover of music and Pablo (Casals) is giving a concert this morning in the garden. He has a few new creations to share. We can continue our conversation during the walk down the mountain and perhaps afterwards we can soak in the hot springs.”
“An excellent idea Socrates. “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music… I get the most joy in life out of music.”
“Of course you do. You are the Gate Keeper of Inspiration.” The two men laugh. “At least,” Albert continues, “The walk down is always easier than the walk up. It is a law of physics. I should know.”
“Of course you do my friend.”
The two men laughing together, leave the meditation hall and the early morning glow behind them.
The Gate Keeper Of Inspiration: Book II Chapter Seven — Iris Murdoch will be published on Sunday, September 01, 2019.