Entropy leads my car to look like this at times
I take myself too seriously. I don’t mean to, it’s just my default setting. I have two weeks left in my current job as a teacher, I have a big opportunity with Under Armour’s What’s Beautiful campaign, I had lots of advocacy work to do (more on that in another post), and I am ramping up my IronMan training. My life this past week has been about juggling schedules and there was little margin for error. I had no time for a sense of humor.
Then I remembered a conversation I had with two of my GEICO Road Safety Bike Tour teammates as we drove from Miami to Orlando. One was a neuroscientist and the other an engineer and they began speaking about entropy as our car began to get messy. I studied philosophy, so I tried to follow along as these things entertain me. Entropy is actually a principle of thermodynamical systems. The higher the entropy the higher the disorder. From Wikipedia:
The entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems spontaneously evolve towards thermodynamic equilibrium – the state of maximum entropy.
Exactly … whatever THAT means. My philosophical take on it is: everything will eventually lead to chaos, unless a force or work intervenes to fix it. So imagine you are on an automatic escalator and it is going down. When it reaches bottom, it reaches chaos. The only problem is that you are on it, and you need to get up, because at the top of the escalator is peace. If you work, if you climb faster than the escalator goes down, you will eventually make it to the top. But if you stop moving, you will continue to go down into disorder and chaos.
Work has many angles and meanings. Work can be my income earning job, or my efforts in parenting. But work is also my training, and my routines to keep my mind at peace. It’s my meditations, my prayers and my gratitude. It’s keeping my mouth shut when I want to criticize something, and in lending a hand when someone reaches for mine. Unless I act well, I won’t feel well.
If I look back at the best times of my life, they did not come to be out of inertia. There was work involved. Life IS work, and work is not a bad word. Things ARE difficult but that’s not necessarily a bad word either. Sometimes, it’s only when things get difficult that we begin to change. When we find ourselves closer to the bottom of that staircase is when we realize we need to start moving up again. And sure, it may not be pleasant, but the result will be a step towards peace.
Then again, nothing overly dramatic has ever happened to me, and I am undeniably grateful. I am not sure I could write this stuff if I was a parent who lost a child in Oklahoma this week. Fortunately for me, my life is simple and I am the one that chooses to make it complicated. I am working, but I am not working on the right things.
Because that’s the other caveat. You can work, you can be busy, but still not move up those stairs. You can run around in circles like a hamster. Work has to matter, work has to be directed. If I move my legs up and down but stay on the same step of that escalator, I am working, I may even get tired, but I am not moving. If all I do is check off items on my to do list as fast as I add them, I am not going anywhere.
Work at times means pause, it means asking for help, it means understanding you can rarely achieve things on your own. Well, I guess some things you can, but it’s way harder. Happiness is real when it is shared.
Help comes in many, many ways. It comes as Joe, who tells me I need more sleep and takes over childcare so I can go to bed, it comes as my mom who can watch Fearless on Saturday morning so I can train, or as soccer moms who listen to me banter while the boys are at practice. It comes as co-workers who help out in my classroom, or even as my kids, who help set the dinner table.
And right now it feels like I am in a maximum state of entropy, in disorder. I’m at the way bottom of the stairs and not moving up the escalator fast enough. If I were working, in this sense, I would be setting lighter deadlines; I would be making more time to rest; I would be saying “I can’t do that right now,” I would accept “good enough”, and I would be a little nicer to myself. I would laugh at my crazy hair when I forget to comb it, make a silly face to my preschool students to hear their squeal, and not take myself so seriously.
Lesson learned. Boy am I looking forward to tomorrow…..
ps. before you call DCF on me, that picture of my car was taken on our way back from a camping trip!