According to elementary school science teachers the world over (and, by the "world" I mean America, and by "America" I mean at my elementary school in Dallas, TX), entropy is what makes a top slowly decrease in speed and eventually come to a rest after it's been set spinning. It's the desire of all things to reach a homogeneous state of death.
Everything is trying to die, all the time.
Today I learned that one of my coworkers has flesh-eating bacteria. When I heard the news, I felt as though I was going to vomit. I'm not being overdramatic when I say that my three biggest health-related fears are aneurisms, brain cancer, and flesh-eating bacteria. What scares me so much about flesh-eating bacteria is that it might appear to the less-knowledgeable observer at first as just a skin irritation or rash. Not wanting to appear hyper-vigilant, the sufferer might not go to the doctor. Next thing the sufferer knows, they're dying of flesh-eating bacteria.
It's a reminder that for all that we know, so much is out of our hands. It's also a reminder that no matter how smart we think we are, we're really not any more ahead of the game than we ever were. Nature always wins, and nature wants us dead.
I was thinking about all of this while doing dishes. I was thinking about how we all try so hard to fight the mundane nature of life. And I was thinking about how this is fine, of course, and even probably necessary. Can you imagine how horrible life would be if we weren't struck down with aneurisms or flesh-eating bacteria or brain cancer for 97 years and hadn't once tried to fight the mundane nature of life? The problem arises, though, when we fight so hard we actually come to believe we can do anything about it. People have become so consumed at times by this obsession to get beyond the mundane nature of life that they've left behind dear, precious, wonderful things and destroyed themselves on the altar of excitement. They've been cruel to others. They've been cruel to themselves. They've done too many drugs, had too much booze, and had fleeting affairs based on even more fleeting attraction to the superficial. They drive recklessly for no reason other than to feel the thrill of what they consciously deny as possible death. This has been presented as nobel by some, and, I have to admit, it's one way to go. A death is a death is a death. It's funny that I'm so freaked out by aneurisms, flesh-eating bacteria and brain cancer. In fact, I should welcome an aneurism. It's quick and, from what I understand about aneurisms, painless.
What struck me about this while doing the dishes wasn't that there is some great argument to be made in favor of a particular way to go. I stopped debating that with myself a while back and am not particularly interested in convincing anyone either way. To some degree it's simply a matter of picking one's poison. I would prefer to have people in my life who want something good to come from all of this, but even that is simply my own judgment about what's good in the first place. I want to be a person who wants the best for others. I want to be a person who doesn't actively disregard the impact I might have on another. I want to be honest, whatever that means. I want people like this in my life. I tried things the other way, and the truth is that it just wasn't killing me fast enough. I figured I might as well try to do it a different way while I'm here.
But I don't believe I'm beating entropy either way.
What really struck me while doing dishes, though, was that I was enjoying doing the dishes. I wasn't enjoying it in that it was like doing a bunch of cocaine or driving recklessly. I was enjoying it as a feeling of being one with the inevitable fact of my death. It felt like an acceptance. It felt like a sacred act of reverence for nature and her dictates. I could hear my love's footsteps in the other room as he prepared to run an errand. We'd just finished dinner he'd cooked. This is what we do. I wash the dishes. So many might find it boring, but those people are in denial of what is an ever-present fact of our lives. There will be time enough for distractions--novels, movies, dancing, painting. Playing. Making.
But one day all that making will slowly revert back into being unmade.