Prior to embracing Ambiguity
By ice rivers
I remember a time before I decided to embrace ambiguity and make it my life work that I felt a weird sense of relief that Albert Einstein had come up with an equation that explained everything. I knew the equation E=mc squared.
It was nice to know that someone could figure all of this out and that since someone had figured it out, I could stand on the shoulders of this giant and using his equation figure anything out.
Somebody explained to me that this equation was the theory of relativity. After further explanation, I gathered that what it meant was “ the more speed you have when you are running away from something the quicker the thing you’re running away from becomes smaller so if you happen to be riding a lightning bolt that’s traveling at the speed of light everything becomes so microscopically small so fast that it didn’t even exist in the first place so what the hell are you worrying about”.
Then I took Physics in high school and realized that I didn’t really have any idea about what the hell Einstein was talking about and I flunked the final exam and had to take the makeup exam or I wouldn’t graduate because where I went to school if you flunked any subject at any time, you were thrown out and if you failed a final exam you had one more chance called a makeup exam and if you failed that you were out on your ass no matter how many years of Latin and Math and French you had completed and no matter what colleges you were accepted into and no matter how many graduation announcements had been sent out or white dinner jackets purchased for the graduation ceremony at the Eastman School stage that you wouldn’t be attending because you didn’t understand Physics.
Maybe I didn't understand physics but I sure as hell knew how to read.
So I read the entire physics book in preparation for the exam and even though I still didn’t know a goddamn thing about physics (which to this day, I don’t even know what it is except I guess an attempt to completely eliminate ambiguity by logically applying the most advanced rules of mathematics to arrive at explanations of magic and wonder and somehow come up with an idea of how to incinerate Hiroshima or spend gazillions of dollars so that Al Shephard could swing a golf club in magnificent desolation) I passed the test.
After I found out about passing the test, I invited my buddies over and we set the physics book on fire and then they watched me piss on it and throw it up in the tree house that we had built and let it stay there until it rotted because we all vowed earlier that none of us would go up into the tree house ever again having sworn away the toys of childhood.
To this day, I still don’t know what the hell Einstein was talking about and I imagine very few of us do and the fact that we don’t hasn’t made a shits worth of difference in our lives whatsoever except perhaps in mine when I decided to get as far away from Physics as I could and become an English teacher.
Many years later, my son got a degree in Math from U of R. Once someone asked my son this question.
“You’re Dad is an English teacher, how in the hell did you get into Math”
To which my son succinctly replied:
“ Unlike him, I’m interested in answers”