When Albert Einstein Gave A Messenger A Million Dollar Tip And The Secret Of Happiness (1922)

"Wo ein Wille ist, da ist auch ein Weg" - Albert Einstein

In November 1922, Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879–April 18, 1955) was in Japan to deliver a series of lectures. It was not long after he had won the Nobel Prize.

Staying at Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel, Einstein was greeted by a courier who came to his room to deliver a message.

 

albert einstein letter auction japan tokyo 1922

 

Einstein had none of the local currency on him, so he took up a pen and wrote a note on a sheet of hotel stationery. “Stilles bescheidenes Leben gibt mehr Glueck als erfolgreiches Streben, verbunden mit bestaendiger Unruhe,” he wrote. (Translation: A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness).

 

albert einstein letter auction japan tokyo 1922

 

On a second sheet, Einstein wrote: “Wo ein Wille ist, da ist auch ein Weg.” (Where there’s a will there’s a way.)

He gave both letters to the messenger and told him that if he was lucky, they would become valuable. On October 24, the courier ‘s nephew sold the letters at auction for $1.56m.

 

A postcard autographed by physicist Albert Einstein when he visited Japan in 1922 after winning the Nobel Prize was discovered at a museum in Shiga Prefecture. Eizaburo Nishibori Memorial Explorer Museum in Higashiomi, Shiga Prefecture, commemorating Nishibori, who headed Japan’s primary Antarctica wintering party, found the postcard in Nishibori’s belongings which were donated to the museum by his relatives last fall. The museum plans to exhibit it next year. According to museum staff, Einstein probably presented the postcard, which has the physicist’s photo printed on it, to Nishibori when he accompanied Einstein to Kyoto and Nara as a translator. The Nishibori family had also offered to pay for the cost of Einstein’s stay in Kyoto, they said. The postcard has Einstein’s autograph dated Dec. 12, 1922, the day he visited Nijo Castle in Kyoto.

A postcard autographed by physicist Albert Einstein to Eizaburo Nishibori, who headed Japan’s primary Antarctica wintering party. The card is dated Dec. 12, 1922, the day Einstein visited Nijo Castle in Kyoto. (Via)

Did he know the letters would be worth a fortune? It’s doubtful. But Einstein gave much thought to the interconnectivity of all things, writing in 1930:

How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people — first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy.

A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving. I am strongly drawn to a frugal life and am often oppressively aware that I am engrossing an undue amount of the labor of my fellow-men. I regard class distinctions as unjustified and, in the last resort, based on force. I also believe that a simple and unassuming life is good for everybody, physically and mentally.

 

A portrait of Einstein by the cartoonist Okamoto Ippei (1886-1948), done in December of 1922 in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan

A portrait of Einstein by the cartoonist Okamoto Ippei (1886-1948), done in December of 1922 in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan

Via Winners