Yesterday was a glorious early spring day, filled with sunshine and warmth, and people filled the parks and streets, wearing mid-summer shorts and tank tops. This was, perhaps, overdoing it a bit, given the temperature was in the upper 60’s F. This morning is just a bit cooler.
I’ve been thinking about the way things wear down. My body is showing my age, as is my car. This winding down is known to physicists as Entropy, the tendency for energy and matter to disperse over time. Eventually, according to our current scientific story, the universe will be dark and silent, and matter and energy will be so evenly dispersed across it that nothing will interact; the universe will essentially be “dead”. Some scientists have suggested that the purpose of life is to hasten this process!
In general parlance, we humans simply say, “Things fall apart”. People tend to join one of two camps regarding this. One one side are those who favor using as much of the world’s energy and resources as possible. They hungrily eye asteroids, moons, and other planets as potential sources of materials and energy, or hope that our destruction of the world will hasten the return of the Creator. (Could this approach simply be a Freudian defense against the inevitability that we will run down and die?) Other folks speak of conservation and sustainability, and seek some form of equilibrium with the world.
I imagine we each must come to some sort of peace with Entropy, must find a relationship to that inevitable decline and collapse. Our lives are finite, as is the period of time in which life, at least as we understand it, may exist in the universe. Too much energy makes the formation of complex molecules, and therefore, life, impossible. Too little energy (too much Entropy) does the same. Life exists in a very narrow border between these two, apparently dominant, states.
As I contemplate this, I find myself giving a great deal of thought to balance, that state between too much and too little. It seems to me the nature of Life, the universe, and everything, is a continual falling out of balance, and returning to equilibrium. We swerve, wobble, and fall from of the middle way. As we do so, we encounter adventure, romance, and excitement; we also meet adversity, illness, and, eventually, death.
I’m curious about all this. Why have a universe that may have something approaching an infinite lifespan, but only produces complexity, and Life, for a brief time? What a mystery! I find this fascinating, if a bit terrifying, to contemplate. How do you approach it?