My thoughts on the book Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman. This is not quite a review of the book, but a brief tap into a couple of the philosophical themes it contains.
In my opinion, Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman is one of the most innovative books I have read recently. After reading it, my personal view of time has been revolutionized. This book really opens your mind to different concepts of time. Before reading it, I thought of time only as linear and moving forward, and had a hard time imagining how it could possibly work any other way. However, this book made it easy to imagine concepts that otherwise would have been very difficult to grasp. I think the fact that it took a creative approach instead of a scientific one made all the difference.
The lesson I learned from this book was that time is something beyond our understanding. It might be circular, it might be backwards, it might be slowed down or sped up — we will never know because time is something which transcends us, and perhaps our understanding. My personal view of time is that we can make time whatever we want to be, only we are not conscious of it. Like the world where there were two kinds of people, those who followed time strictly and lived their lives mechanically according to clocks, and at the same time there were free spirits who completely disregarded time and followed only their instincts. They could choose for themselves which time they would rather live in. Also, the world where time stops at the center of a city, and you can either go farther towards or away from the mirror depending on how long you wanted to live your life. There is also an element of choice there.
It happens again in the dream where catching a nightingale allows you freeze that moment, but only children have the stamina to catch them, and no child ever chooses to catch one because children do not want to pause or slow down time. An element of choice is also present in the dream where your choices make time split into three different dimensions, or the dream where people from the future are occasionally stuck in the past and fear making any choices that may alter history. Most of the dreams include a notion choice involved with time. This suggests that perhaps time is a concept existing within us, thus we subconsciously have control over it. The irony over the ideas in the dreams where people have control over time is that their control usually backfires on them, such as the dream where time went slower in higher altitudes, so people lived in the mountains, but in the end that lifestyle only made them appear aged earlier.
Thus, my conclusion is that though perhaps time may be a matter of our perception, we are not meant to control it, only live it. Perhaps time itself does not transcend us, but we are simply unable to understand it, hence why we constantly try to control it only to end up with consequences much different than what we had hoped for. Every chapter raises different questions and theories, I think I could spend days discussing this book with someone. This book has influenced me a lot more than I thought it would, and I am very pleased I took the chance to read it.