a2 + b2 = Love?
About loving wisdom and hating olives
His name was Pythagoras. You may have heard of him; or at the very least, of something which nowadays students across the globe lovingly refer to as the Pythagorean Theorem. You know, the thing with the squares and the triangles you learned about in high school (...and NO, he did NOT invent the triangle!!). Many people know that good old Pythagoras was quite the thinker, back in the day when Greece was in the process of birthing Western civilization. He was well versed in mathematics and philosophy, and even had a thing or two to say about music. What most of us don't know about this wise man from ancient Greece, is the fact that, despite all his wisdom and learnedness, and even though he was considered to be quite a looker in his younger days, he wasn't very adept when it came to matters of the heart. Even a man as wise as he, was not able to find an equation for love. So he lived his life, studious and diligent, investigating and learning, spending solitary hour after solitary hour by his work desk in his garden, never bothering much about trivial matters such as love, until, one fine day... Well, you'll see!
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"Olives?" she said with a teasing smile, holding three of the plump, green, and fragrant ovals straight under Pythagoras' nose.
"You know I hate those things, Sophia!" he grumbled in her direction as he pushed her hand away. Even the smell of every other Grecian's favorite fruit made him retch. More than that, it was the bitter aftertaste he abhorred beyond measure. He had tried them once in his life, and it was then that he knew beyond any doubt or uncertainty, that olives were the most vile and unpalatable things to be found among all the fruit that existed between heaven and earth. This was also how he knew the gods had a rather exuberant sense of humor, having put him into a time and place where olives were used in just about every meal, and olive oil was one of the most popular beauty products amongst his fellow citizens. Almost everyone's hair and skin reeked of it.
"Come now, Pythagoras, at least give them a try. Here, smell how sweet and ripe they are."
"If you don't take these horrendous things out of my sight, by Zeus, I will take this ruler and slap you across the head with it. I have work to do, and you're keeping me from doing it. You know how much I despise being interrupted."
She playfully put one of the olives in her mouth, made it blatantly obvious how much she enjoyed the flavor, paused for a moment, and then looked at him with glee.
"Work? Don't be silly! What could be more important, and more pleasurable, than to enjoy some fresh olives, on a warm and sun drenched summer afternoon as beautiful as this? O wise and busy Pythagoras, O mighty wielder of rulers!" Her chuckle sounded light and silvery, and had a sparkling ring to it. Although, the innocence in her laughter did not quite match the sly twinkle in her eyes, as she continued to tease him.
"Are you not at all tempted to taste them, ripe and juicy, right from my hand?" With a little pout she added, "Not even a little?"
"Nope," came the curt reply.
He had been working on this one particular mathematical puzzle for some time now, and was in no mood to deal with Sophia's silliness. His desk was littered with an exorbitant amount of papers filled with numbers, geometric figures, and complicated equations, as well as plenty of charcoal, three different sized rulers, and a sheer endless assortment of various items he frequently needed for his intricate calculations. He barely noticed as she got up from next to him and started to stroll around the garden.
If you have ever been in Greece on a day like this, with the sun high up in the sky, no clouds as far as the eye can see, the pleasant smells and sounds of summer around you, the intricate songs of birds mixed with the remote buzz of cicadas, and the low rustle of vine leaves moving leisurely in the breeze, then you know how calm and serene, how sweet and succulent, how truly precious and full of joy life can be. Sophia was the kind of woman who had the wisdom to appreciate moments like these more than anything. Moments when the world seems to stop for a little while, when the sorrow and bitterness, and the hardship of existence falls by the wayside, and you revel in the utter beauty and wonder of it all.
"What is it?"
Sophia heard the annoyance in his voice, but chose to ignore the rudeness of his gruff reply. She knew him too well to take it to heart.
"Why did you choose me?" she asked.
"Oh, Sophia, you know the answer to that question. Leave me be!"
The charcoal made a slight scraping sound as he scribbled more numbers onto the papyrus.
"No, really, Pythagoras, why did you choose me?"
With a sigh he put down his papers, and looked at her.
"Why do you have to bother me in the midst of my work, Sophia? You know that it is vexing to me, to be so close yet so far from finding the answer to a problem. It's this old Babylonian equation which has been troubling me for the longest time." He shoved to papers toward her. "If I could only work out a system to visualize the problem, I'm sure I would be able to solve it. I think I'm looking at it the wrong way."
"Then what is it you see when you look at me, my Love?" She knew exactly how important his work was to him, but just as it had happened so often before, she also knew that he usually got too caught up in the details, and lost sight of what things really were. "Look at me, Pythagoras."
Despite his single-minded focus and determination in solving his mathematical riddles and equations, it was Sophia who had the power to draw his attention in the most peculiar way. She was a woman of stunning beauty, even amongst the plentitude of extraordinarily beautiful women who lived within the borders of the Greek empire, at the time. Her long, dark hair, falling loosely over her shoulders, reaching down to her waist, was one of her most outstanding features. Her smooth skin and caramel complexion, her dark, deep eyes, the color of Ébenos wood, the soothing richness of her voice, her touch, her attention, they all were precious to Pythagoras. So often when he was at a loss and did not know how to proceed in his work, it had been Sophia who had helped him. Yet every time, again and again, it was as if he had forgotten that it was she, and she alone, who had the ability to show him the way.
He looked at her as he relaxed his stiff shoulders and rested his hand on the table. The piece of charcoal he had held, rolled across half the table, and came to a sudden stop next to a stack of discarded papyrus. It was a strange sensation he experienced whenever he took the time to really look at Sophia. It was as if color, sound, smell, and taste had been added to the world.
"I see wisdom, I see beauty, I see truth," he said quietly. The wooden bench creaked slightly as he finally relaxed his whole body, leaning his full weight against the backrest. He took a deep breath, and noticed a bird singing in one of the tall pine trees, which had been growing in the garden since long before he had purchased it.
"Wisdom? Beauty? Truth?" Sophia smiled. "Are those not the very same things you claim to look for in your work? Why then not look at me, and find them?"
For a moment he sat and let the calmness of her voice fill his being. His eyes closed, and he remembered why it was that he had chosen her. She was the reason for his being, his purpose in life, she was wisdom, and if there was one voice amongst the myriad of voices to be heard, it was hers which warranted listening to. Without her there was no wisdom, and without wisdom there could be neither truth nor beauty.
"Open your eyes, Pythagoras, and see the truth," she whispered as she gently touched his hair, sitting next to him on the bench again.
As his eyes slowly opened he saw Sophia in all her beauty, radiant and pure, and in that moment, without exerting even the least amount of effort the solution came to him. He knew that, once more, it had been Sophia who had shown him the true path to wisdom, and that he would love her for it as he had always done.
As he picked up the paper and charcoal to write down the solution to his equation, she kissed him on the forehead, saying "You will see me again, Pythagoras my Love." But he was already too busy to hear.
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