April 2, 2003

By Michael Strickland

Entropy

en·tro·py / n / 'en-trO-pE
the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity

One of my favorite paintings by artist Mary Ford is "Entropy" (egg tempura, 14" x 18"). The painting depicts a pristine still life, with several pieces of fruit sitting on top of a book entitled "Entropy." The rich scene is only marred by a housefly crouching on a slice of fruit.

Entropy is the law of the universe. Anything left undisturbed will eventually decay and scatter into its component atoms, just as that piece of fruit will, if left alone, quickly become infested with maggots and shrivel into a wet, fuzzy mess. Entropy is the reason we blink, the reason why housework is necessary, the reason why the word "maintenance" is in the English dictionary. Interestingly, the French word "maintenant" means "now"... perhaps because if you don't maintain it now, entropy will take it later.

Sometimes, entropy moves fast, and does not wait for inactivity. Today, I watched two mourning doves spend all day building a nest inside the wheel well of a truck, only to see the vehicle drive off at the end of the day. I guess that's why they call them birdbrains. Luckily, they hadn't had time to lay any eggs yet.

Entropy metaphorically rules our lives as well. If we don't maintain our relationships, stay engaged in our work, keep active in society, we stagnate. If we live a "still life," the fly on our fruit will do what comes naturally. Before we realize it, the rut becomes a chasm.

So next time you wash the windows or dust the furniture, remember to keep up with the other "housework" in your life.

 

Development note: I've noticed that this site doesn't look like it should in Netscape Navigator. Rather than waste time jury-rigging it to look right in a soon-to-be-obsolete browser, I'll just add the cliché "This site best viewed with Internet Explorer."
©2003
Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year, I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

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