“Only entropy comes easy.” Anton Chekhov
I first read this line, the line after which this post is named, on a t-shirt. Funny stuff if you ask me…and while I know you didn’t, I’m confident that you’re thankful for my brilliant observation. Lately I’ve been thinking about the frustration that people face as a result of entropy. For the purpose of this post the term entropy means: everything is breaking down…all around us…everyday. This is a gross simplification of the term, and Dictionary.com has a far more suitable definition on their site…feel free. I’m not one of those bloggers who pads his word count by using cut and paste to insert long drawn-out definitions into his posts. Plus I tried. Formatting was a bear. So—here we are. The actual definition really has little to do with my point, which is more about how this constant degradation of stuff makes us feel, and how we react to it…more to the point, how I react to it. The frustration that this process produces seems to be as universal as the proclivity to try and reverse it. We all entertain, at times, the slavish inclination to slow the decay-rate of our possessions, our relationships, our bodies, and our lives.
My life is filled with all of these little reminders that things are not cooperative. I want my car to run trouble-free until the time comes when I am bored with it and want another…“It’s not you, car, it’s me”…it’s totally me. My house, which is a great place, has little things happening in it all the time that need maintenance or repair. They are small, insignificant things, but so are ticks…and that fact makes them no less annoying. Relationships are no minor source of frustration for me, I constantly have to apologize for something stupid I’ve said or done…and it is wearisome at times. I know, I know, the solution is simple: “Just stop saying and doing stupid things”. That really does seem simple when I read it…alas; the doing is far more complex—as they say when hot coffee is in play: “There are many a slip, between cup and lip”. But the point isn’t how I fix me; that’ll take some time, and I’m beginning to suspect I won’t be around for the re-boot unveil of pats0 2.0. My point has to do with the fact that everything around me is an indicator that I was not made to be in a constant environment of decay…it makes me uncomfortable…the natural state of the world and all of its elements makes me uncomfortable.
What could be more natural than decay? Instinctually, we realize this simple fact at a very young age. We receive a toy that captures our imaginations and quickly usurps the role of our former favorite toy to become our new favorite. When that happens, we protect it with a vigor that our Slinky and Silly-Putty never enjoyed. It’s as though we know: the more hands that touch this treasure, the more magic that is drained. Soon, Chatty Cathy speaks in hushed tones and the clicks that used to be so prominent when our Lego’s found their purchase become more and more subtle. But this does little to quell our shock as life doles out proof after proof that this is the way it is. We are not only shocked that it is happening to us, but we react in a way that would lead one to believe that we think that entropy is a strange quirk that we alone possess, and as such we try and hide, from everyone, the fact that our world is coming down around our ears.
In a recent issue of Rolling Stone magazine, I read two articles about two recent media train-wrecks—Charlie Sheen and John Mayer…the former got the cover, and after reading the article, I can see why. Say what you want about the tiger-blood swilling, seven-gram rock-banger…when he’s not winning, the man gives a compelling interview, because that’s how he rolls. But that is neither hither nor thither; the metaphor that these two guys employed to describe the way their lives felt just prior to their public melt-downs was the interesting part. They both made reference to the idea that their lives were falling down all around them, and they were standing there trying to hold it all up as things crumbled. It read like someone trying to hold up a house while it is falling down. Although not to give those inside a couple of extra seconds to escape, but more for seeing to it that the neighbors never suspected that anything was wrong with the structure…the very last ditch in damage control. Everything is okay here, move along.
I have never, nor do I know anyone who has, lived in a perfect world. I’ve heard no firsthand accounts of what it would be like, but the longing for unity, for peace, for redemption, and for a clock that never losses time is everywhere. It is in our poems, songs, and stories. So from where does all of this consternation toward degradation come? The imagination of humanity seems to reliably point toward a future devoid of disappointment; at least a good portion of our fantasy is bent on a better hope. But this is not the story of history. The story of history is change through adversity…maturity through suffering. What a crazy coincidence that we all long for something perfect…Crazy like a Warlock…