The image: A fast food seller cheerfully looking through smoke posing for my Nikon while flipping and tossing noodles for me while I waited. The poor man barely had enough protection from the bone-shattering cold like I did, and the best he had on was a pair of Chinese plastic boots that you could get for $2 on Alibaba. The snow would start falling when you expected it the least and stop falling when you expected it the most. I could run – I could hide but all he could do was stand there, and shelter the only business he had. I wondered if the poor fellow even had a medical insurance?
In March 1905, a little known clerk from the federal patent office in Bern, Switzerland named Albert Einstein excited, infuriated and intrigued the scientific community of the world when he presented his paper on the theory of general relativity. Today, E=mc2 is probably the most widely recognized physics equation globally, which was part of his findings that transformed the world of physics as we knew it.
So, what is Relativity?
If I have to give you a simple example, think about two boys, ‘A‘ and ‘B‘. A is traveling inside a train that is moving at 10 km/hr from left to right and B is standing stationary on a train station platform watching the train move with A inside it, left to right. If A rolls a tennis ball in front of him at 5 km/hr while he is inside the train, then to A, the ball would appear to move away from him at 5 km/hr only. However, for B who is standing stationary on the platform, the ball would appear to move at 15 km/hr left to right because he would add the speed of train forward (10 km/hr) + the speed of ball at which A threw in front of him inside the train (5 km/hr) = 15 km/hr. So, the ball is moving at 5 km/hr for A but 15 km/hr for B. It means, both space and time are relative to each other, not absolute. In short, It’s ALL RELATIVE.
Why our lives are relative?
As much you want to pity the guy selling noodles in the midst of snowfall all around him, who knows if he is really complaining about it as much as you think he should. While most kids in Africa try to figure out which international organization will bring them vaccinations and food to eat, some youngsters in Germany, as narrated by my German friend once, get upset over their inability to afford a new car. The African kids certainly got bigger things to worry about than a new car with sunroof.
Most of us would be complaining about something all the time. While a relatively wealthy family could be stressed about its inability to visit France as its neighbor did this year, a middle class family could be scratching its heads on how to make that extra 2 grands next year to be able to have that second or third child and a big family car, just like its neighbor’s seemingly happy-go-lucky family does.
Like a shot of penicillin, the urge to compare is always there deep inside us, since our childhood. What we do not realize is that everybody got a problem to address at their own level, which may not seem big to you and that is relative to yours but nevertheless, a problem for them. While you may assume since Michael Jackson had all the money and fame in the world, he must have been very lucky and happy. But, we all now know that he was not all that happy with his long list of anti-depressants and mood drugs when he died.
Like the two boys A and B, life is very relative to others, it is never absolute for all. The situation for boy A cannot be the same for B. Just like this law of physics, no two lives will be same and your life will always be relative to all others in the universe. The problems of others do not have to be yours and the problems you face do not have to be theirs. For a person on government support, the ability to earn and afford a family with a house would be success whereas a person who already owns a Lamborghini or Ferrari, getting featured on the Forbes list of richest people would probably mean success. It will ways be relative.
So, instead of looking right or left, we could simply look at our own lives at present and where we really want to go not based on where the other has reached, but where we really wanna go. All we need to do is, apply Einstein’s theory of relativity into our lives.