I’ve been out of a math or science classroom for more years than I can count. Can’t count them due to the distance, I suppose. So it brings me much joy to learn more from the Alien about Time, its non-existence, its contingency and relativity.
The Alien tells me that Einstein was on the right track, well ahead of his day for an earthling, but never quite got there, and that contemporary meta-physicians like Carlo Rovelli are closer. But he’s not quite there, either. Since I’m light years behind both men, I have no idea exactly what the Alien means, though I do understand, now, that each of us knows time, relative to our own positioning within the Cosmos, in relation to everything else that exists. As in, it’s not the same for all things, other than its overall non-existence, though even that has shades and waves and particles of difference to sift and sort through.
So now I know, for example, that if you live at sea level, time is slower for you than if you live in the mountains. The pull of gravity slows down time, and that pull, the Alien admitted, has already “messed with his head.” It’s so different here than on his home planet, and I suggested to him this may be one reason for his recent mood swings, which were not a part of his history before. On his home planet, which he won’t name yet (fearing my abject disbelief), most everyone is like Spock, he says. Vulcan-like, stoic, even-keeled, rarely given to emotional outbursts. Of course, he’s a little bit embarrassed about that too, acknowledging how this fits into the usual earthling stereotypes of beings on other planets. Clichés, sometimes, have kernels of truth — a cliché itself, of sorts.
Regardless, the key insight he’s trying to instill in me is this:
I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen
I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob g’goo goo g’joob
Goo goo g’joob g’goo goo g’joob g’goo . . .
— by John Lennon. Credited as Lennon and McCartney.
We are all beautifully, wondrously different, but Time — its absence, its paradoxes — helps make us all the same. We die. We live. We die and live again and again, returning to the stars that birthed us. And this makes the Alien profoundly happy, which he couldn’t quite express, so he offered this song instead.
(The Alien has not yet heard Nina Simone’s sublime version of the Anthony Newley, Leslie Bricusse song. All in good . . . )