In school I learned a basic version of the second law of thermodynamics, and over the years it’s been watered down considerably. Which means it’s stuck in place as:
Over time, chaos (disorder) ensues.
I think of this often when I look at my house. Almost everything in my house is something that I cleaned or put away once, that is deteriorating into chaos and disorder as the minutes wear on. It annoys me that this is a law of the universe I live in. It annoys me that I can’t escape it.
When I went to look up the law of thermodynamics today, I also looked up the word entropy, because apparently – in the not-dumbed-down version of the second law – entropy is what increases to maximum levels in a closed system. And entropy is defined as a measure of the energy that is no longer available for use (because it is disordered).
This also make perfect (and depressing) sense to my adult mind. Because as my house trembles toward disorder, it becomes more and more impossible for me to feel capable of creative/useful/positive work. The only thing to be done is to stamp that entropy down and clean it up. But the law makes clear it will return. Again, and again, and again. And the law makes it clear that I am swimming against the tide in my efforts to keep this entropy at bay.
I was offered wise words today. The words were: “Trust in the Process.” This was regarding the process used for PhDs to finish their dissertation, submit their work, place job applications, and obtain jobs. And just as my mind can comprehend the sense behind the Second Law of Thermodynamics, I can also see the sense in the words: “Trust in the Process.”
Of course, just as my mind finds the idea of Second Law of Thermodynamics depressing, my mind finds this theory depressing as well.
“Trust in the Process.” A process that – due to the kind of life circumstances that happen to every person on this planet in one way or another – has had some sucky particulars when it comes to our family’s experience. Oh, what a fun process to trust in! (Cut the sarcasm, my dear.)
Also, I get that “Trust in the Process” means to “Trust that God had a plan for you.” And that, yes, God has a bit more insight into what is best for my family and how to get me there. But that always gets me back to Martha and her words regarding her dead brother, Lazarus: “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (John 11:24). As in, yes, I know you will take care of me God, but you’ve given no guarantees that it won’t be terrible along the way – actually, you’ve kind of implied that it will.
Such positivity today!
It all comes down to this:
The Second Law of Thermodynamics declares my house will be dirty and chaotic.
And The Process will do what it may, and take me where it wants me to go, so I might as well trust in it, because not trusting in it won't make it come out any different anyway.
And all I can do, in the middle of all this glorious sense, is to stand up and dust my rafters. But I don’t want to dust (as usual).
This all reminds me of a dish towel my friend gave me for my birthday. It reads:
“I could keep this kitchen clean, if you would all stop eating in here.”
Amen!! Death to Mealtime!! And to Entropy!!! And to The Process!!
Speaking of birthdays, mine was interesting this year. It was a school day, and since I’m the teacher now, that meant I was up on the docket.
Last year, I took my kids out of school on my birthday (they were still in the public school) and went to an old part of the University of Iowa campus and let them climb trees while I read a book. It was all very poetic until some dog-walking lady came by and informed me that the grass has been sprayed recently, and then shook her head at how I was poisoning my children as we spoke.
But this year, I could hardly take them out of school, since I’d already taken them out – as it were – and so I decided I wouldn’t be able to read a book all day as I love to do, because that would just be cheating. I would have to teach Math and English, ferry the girls to Music and PE, deliver and pick up Grant from half-day kindergarten, and attend sundry make-up lessons for ballet and gymnastics – classes we missed while in Utah. A busy day.
That morning I got up and did my morning jobs (scriptures and writing) and got dressed and did my hair. Doing my hair on a school day (not before Church or a date) is slightly amazing. I decided it was my birthday and I should give myself a little respect. Justin was very kind during this all and took time feeding the baby all sorts of breakfast – milk! sandwich! yogurt! – so I could have a birthday morning to myself. This meant the baby was plum full of breakfast by the time I descended the stairs, prepared to survey the masses, and get the busy day ahead of us all well and truly going.
And then, suddenly, the baby exploded.
And by exploded, I most certainly mean exploded. Throw-up came pouring out of Sterling, all over himself, all over his clothes, and all over the ground. I came closer to offer comfort, and he went at it again. This time the throw-up ricocheted off of me, splattering the couch, the rug, the stairs, the banister, my clothes, my hair, and the wall behind me. Volcanic proportions of all that food Justin was kind enough to offer the sick little babe, spattered outward at every object it could possibly touch and smear.
I sat for five minutes staring, wondering where exactly I should start. His eruption was that complete, that massive. And then, when I’d figured it had to be done, regardless of any plan, I got myself up and cleaned it up.
Justin was in the shower, and couldn’t hear me, so the older kids shuttled me wipes, and buckets of water, and garbage bags, and dry towels. The baby was parceled into an empty port-a-crib with blankey and binky, a movie put on to steam him into comatose happy land for the rest of the day. I took off my puke-covered pants and shirt and donned my pajamas again. I called the schools and told them we were out for the count for the rest of the day.
And then, with the baby happily entranced by Fantasia, and the older ones overjoyed at being left alone by their task-heavy mother/teacher, I sat and read a book. All day long. Just like I'd wanted to, but just like I'd been unwilling to grant myself permission to do hours before.
All this to say, that a volcanic eruption of throw-up - a seemingly horrible start to the day - is what gave me what I actually wanted in the end. A quiet day at home, with a book, and no responsibilities.
I suppose this is The Second Law of Thermodynamics and The Process rolled all into one?