The house was quiet as a church as Albert lost himself in the book on Pythagoras. Warm summer winds blew the yellow cotton curtains and they flapped through the open window over the kitchen sink. The young mathematician's feet dangled from the wooden, thatched chair at the rectangular butcher block table. As he read, he began to realize that his uncle Jakob had given him his first real intellectual puzzle. Deep in thought, Albert was unaware that he had almost chewed through his pencil as he stared at the diagram of a right triangle. His eyebrows drawing closer and closer together as he read, Albert became determined to prove the Pythagorean Theorem.
Losing himself in his contemplation, Albert absentminded began playing with his compass as he turned pages in the book. He would read a few paragraphs and then gaze at the compass face, letting his mind wander in speculation. There was no way for him to know that the energy of the compass took his mind beyond space and time. Albert was far away and unaware of where he was as triangles of all shapes and sizes danced in his imagination.
The square of the length of the hypotenuse (c) of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the square of each leg (a, b) of the triangle " or C2 = A2 + B2
Without question, he was determined to meet the challenge of his own. Albert did not tell anyone what he was working on.
By the second week of intense focus, Albert’s theories were swirling round and round in his head. Finally one day, wild with excitement he sat writing. He covered a sheet of paper with cryptic drawings and numbers, the pencil lead broke. His arms quivering, he stared at the torn paper and broken pencil for a moment, then he snapped. Clawing at the paper, he wadded it up and screamed as he threw it across the kitchen hitting the kitchen door. His body shaking with fury, the budding scientist put his head down on the table and sobbed.
His mother Pauline rushed from the stove where she had been stirring the stew for the evening dinner. She knelt down, putting a comforting arm across Albert’s shoulder. “Now, now, Albert. It’s okay.”
Albert turned and buried himself in his mother’s hug. “It’s not okay, mama. There is a way to prove this theorem and I can’t find it,” he said, his face still pinched with anger.
Pauline thought for a moment, then brightened. “Maybe doing something else for a while would help. Perhaps you should play your violin. You know how music soothes you so you can think.”
Albert frowned. “Come Albert. You need a break from that book. Maybe you could invite Johann and the two of you could practice the Mozart Sonata for the recital at school next month.”
Albert didn’t want to see anyone. The solitary quest suited him, but it was consuming him. And he was stuck. He was getting nowhere. His mother’s words reminded him how the family loved the concerts the two of them played during the holidays and how music lifted his spirits. And it was true that he did enjoy it when Johann joined in from time to time. Sighing in resignation, the grim mathematician surrendered, “Oh all right, I will talk to Johann.”
# # #
“Wow, did your pet goldfish die or something, Albert? You look terrible.” Johann shook his head in disapproval as his friend let him in the front door.
Despite himself, Albert had to smile at Johann’s cheerfulness. “Ah, I’m just stuck on a problem and don’t know how to get out of it,” he said waving his arm as if to brush away his vexation. He was still hiding his mission and didn’t even want his friend to know what he was pursuing.
Attempting to shake off his melancholy, Albert ushered Johann into the parlor, “My mother thinks taking a break will help. We need to practice for the recital, anyway.”
Used to Albert’s moods, Johann nodded, “Okay, I can practice for an hour. My father needs me at the Alehouse to help serve the evening meal.” He wiped his rough hands on his lederhosen and sat on the wooden piano bench, his tree trunk legs stuffed under the piano. He shuffled the sheet music on the music stand. Albert had memorized the piece and readied his violin as he stood next to Johann.
After fifteen minutes of stops and starts to refine their duet, the notes sparkled with charm. The music’s sweetness began to seep into Albert’s troubled heart. He closed his eyes and like fireworks a burst of triangles within the notes flew in rhythm across his violin. His imagination opened and flowed with new ideas and Albert opened to new dimensions inside himself.
After another thirty minutes, Albert had regained his peace—and enthusiasm for his project. “I think we are ready for our recital, my friend.”
Consumed with eagerness to work with his new ideas Albert lost any sense of manners. He urged Johann to his feet and helped him on with his jacket. Feeling pushed out the door, Johann said, “Well I guess we are ready.” Then, just to frustrate his friend, he paused and turned to Albert, hiding a grin. “But are you sure you wouldn’t like to practice a few more times? I could stay a few more minutes…”
“No, no, I am certain we are ready. Hurry up now, I don’t want you to be late for work,” Albert replied. Almost slamming the door shut to his friend and completely oblivious to the fact that Johann knew exactly what Albert was up to. Johann smiled and shook his head as he turned to walk back to the alehouse.
With the breakthrough in awareness he had gained when he and Johann had been playing the Mozart piece, Albert became more confident. And with the confidence came serenity. The dreamer began to awaken each morning with visions of the music of the Pythagorean Theorem dancing in his mind’s eye. It was as if he was viewing it in its completeness from high above. And he knew how to prove it.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish