Posts Tagged ‘time’

The presence of entropy

June 9, 2011

Life is an all-consuming project. If left unattended, it follows a random path of inertia and ends up in an entropic state of disarray.

Entropy is the measure of disorder in any system. An influx of energy is required to either decrease the entropy or keep it at a constant level. A very simple example is to ignore housework for a week. Clean nothing. Put nothing away. At the end of that week, take a look at the disorder of your home. That’s entropy.

Another example of entropy is the demise of a living creature. Because that creature is no longer able to take in energy, its physical system falls to disarray and decay. This disarray and decay, however, feed another living system (the earth and all its microbial beings and insects that feast upon corpses).

But a messy living room and a corpse are not the only form of entropy our world. There is also this odd little notion of informational entropy – that the messages received in language have a fair amount of predictability and, therefore, unpredictability. Other entropies include conditional entropy, differential entropy, the arrow-of-time entropy, joint entropy, and negentropy (the entropy that a living system exports to keep its own entropy low – I kind of think of this as our tendency to bury our trash and waste in landfills or fire it into outer space – think about that one coming back to haunt us in about 20 years . . . as the interstellar trash can revolves in space, it attracts all sorts of debris and becomes a fiery asteroid the size of Texas. Too heavy to sustain its orbit, it falls through our atmosphere and lands in . . . okay, now I have to write a book about that).

I’ve perused the scientific literature (i.e., Wikipedia) on entropy and have yet to discover any definition for the process where people increase their energy in an aspect of their lives yet end up in an entropic mess anyway. In other words, they put a lot of energy into screwing up. Teenagers are famous for this. Then, there are others who put their energy into EVERTHING they come across in life. This author is guilty of that one. Here’s the scenario: Ideas like that lame book I describe above capture my attention so I spend oodles of energy working on it, but then notice that my job, sleep, tennis, other writing (re: blog), school, relationships are starting to lose their cohesiveness and entropy begins nibbling at their borders threatening to send those life activities into shambles. So I abandon my book and scoot over to taking care of them. I find out, of course, that there is not enough time in one day to pay sufficient attention to all of them so sacrifices have to be made. Housework was the first one to bite the dust.

The point of this blog is that I have to choose where and when I spend my energy and decide what might have to fall prey to entropy so that I take the best care of my life. I default to what feels good. It feels good to have a stable job and a roof over my head. It feels good to have a financial life that might actually see me into retirement. It feels good to whack tennis balls and exercise (I want to hit retirement vertically not horizontally). It feels good to pursue my studies at Loyola. It feels good to be writing this blog. It feels good to have nurturing relationships.

I hope it feels good for you, too.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of story

April 12, 2010

Lately, I have had the feeling that I am running out of time.

At least, that’s the story I have been telling myself.

Joseph Campbell’s words “Eternity doesn’t start when you die. You’re in it now” remind me that I am always in the eternal now. Time is the unending unraveling of the universe and the constant movement of energies. Time is the coming together of energies and the eventual dissolution of those energies.

I am mindful of the fact that the cohesion of the molecules I call my physical body can end at any time. And I often feel as if I am wasting this opportunity because I am imagining that I am not doing all of the things I should be doing. I feel as if I am very far behind in becoming all of the presence that I should be.

Yesterday, I wrote about listening to the story within me. Today, I am mindful of where the story may be coming from. And, I need to be aware that part of my lesson in this existence is learning about bringing my true presence to life. To do this, I need to face the stories within me and find out if they are true or if they are just something someone told me about myself a long time ago.

Don Miguel Ruiz begins book, The Four Agreements, talking about the presence of story within all of us and how we design our lives to make those stories become our lives. We live out the stories other people have told us about ourselves. We live life because someone told us “this is how life is” and we believed that person and continue to recreate that reality over and over again.

Ruiz goes on to discuss how powerful our words are and the stories they create. Words create lives. Words destroy lives. Today, I will be mindful of how my stories are creating or destroying my life.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass