What Einstein Once Told Me…

One of the many treasures experienced through reading, is the ability to have one off conversations with many great people, thinkers, achievers, inventors, athletes, you name it.

Over the years a couple of dozen people have really intrigued me. People like: Disney, Jobs, Buffett, Lincoln, Franklin, Gandhi, Hitler, King, Caesar, Edison, Rockefeller, Mozart, da Vinci, Confucius, Christ, Socrates, Kardashian (ha! just making sure you’re reading the list!), Michelangelo, Twain, and of course Albert Einstein.

A few years ago I read the book Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson. The book was really good for anyone interested in ole Albert.

In doing a little extra research after reading the book, I found a random letter that Albert had written to one of his sons. The letter was written in 1915, Albert was 36 years old. He was living in Berlin and his boys Hans Albert and Eduard were living in Vienna with Albert’s estranged wife Mileva.

Having just completed his monumental master work on the theory of relativity, but right before international fame and recognition would occur… Einstein penned this letter to his son, 11 year old Hans Albert:

“Yesterday I received your dear letter and was very happy with it. I was already afraid you wouldn’t write to me at all anymore. You told me when I was in Zurich, that it is awkward for you when I come to Zurich. Therefore I think it is better if we get together in a different place, where nobody will interfere with our comfort.

I will in any case urge that each year we spend a whole month together, so that you see that you have a father who is fond of you and who loves you. You can also learn many good and beautiful things from me, something another cannot as easily offer you.

What I achieved through such a lot of strenuous work shall not only be there for strangers but especially for my own boys. These days I have completed one of the most beautiful works of my life, when you are bigger, I will tell you about it.

I am pleased that you find joy with the piano. This and carpentry are in my opinion for your age the best pursuits, better even than school. Because those are the things which fit a young person such as you very well. Mainly play the things on the piano which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those. That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes. I am sometimes so wrapped up in my work that I forget about the noon meal…”

This letter has crossed my mind many times over the past couple of years. It came up again this morning, on the way home from the Valpo YMCA. Stacey and I were discussing our kids and their futures.

One of the many displeasures of being a parent is that we are saddled with worry over the future well being of our offspring.

It’s the last couple of lines of Albert’s letter that I wish upon my children… “that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes.”

At some point, in our time as American’s mostly all of us have strayed from or been blind to this ideology. The idea that doing “work” doesn’t have to be despised. In fact, it can be loved.

I don’t need my kids to be wealthy, although poor is no option. I’m not sure fame is a healthy anecdote either. So give me three wishes to grant them and I choose:
1. Happiness
2. True Love
3. Passion/Love for their work

Thanks for reading! Please send me the wishes you have for your kids and even for yourself to bart@bartsellshouses.com

See you next time!


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