Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Autumn, Buddha, And My Personal Struggle With Entropy

           The temperatures are dropping and I am jumping for joy, not just because I am a typical New Englander and cannot stand the heat, but because I get to move back into my bedroom. For pretty much the entire summer I have been sleeping downstairs in front of the television. I am not such an addict to TV that I need it to go to sleep. Quite the contrary. The issue is that my house, like most houses in the area, does not have central air. This is the land of window unit air conditioning. I know several people who recall spending entire summers camping on couches in their own homes. My second home across the street would get so hot on the upper level that even walking by the stairs in the summer time you would encounter this wall of oven like heat. They also had the fun of no heat in the winter and waking up with frost on the inside of the windows. My little brother didn’t have any heat in his bedroom either. And so it goes – a region of the country that grooms its population to not be able to tolerate having the thermostat set above 65 (Or perhaps it is just here on New Fletcher St). We would rather have ice growing on the inside of the windows and be covered in six Polar Fleece blankets than be in a hot house. My college roommates (from Virginia and Barcelona) had fun living with me.
            Since I have not really been sleeping in my room all summer, it has become QUITE the dumping zone. If I’m not going to spend time there, there’s really no incentive to keep it tidy. I’m very pragmatic about my time. I don’t like to waste it. Many people would assume that in lacking a traditional job I am footloose and fancy free. I wish they were right. When I visit my bedroom for whatever reason, inevitably something gets moved out of place, or shifted, or dumped on the floor. This makes my room an excellent demonstration of the concept of entropy, not just in the sense of equilibrium and nature’s predisposition towards disorder, but also in Lazare Carnot’s concept of entropy as energy loss due to friction. I can’t go up there and get anything done without wasting time, making a mess, losing something, getting confused…. the list goes on.
            I am not a Buddhist by any means. I do think the Buddha and his followers and the Dalai Llama have some unbelievably wise things to say. And incorporating a lot of these ideas into your life could not hurt in any way. As I think about moving back into my landfill of a bedroom (which I assure you I will clean), I find myself wondering what Buddha would think of my bedroom. Why? I really don’t know. I have a funny feeling though, that he would laugh quite a lot, having never seen such a ridiculous mess, and then make some sort of proverbial correlation between the state of the inside of my head and the inside of my bedroom.
            I will not deny that I am odd, and sometimes forgetful, and occasionally do really crazy things. I am not, however, the complete and utter disaster that you would assume I was just by looking at the inside of my bedroom. Now I would like to propose that this chaos, this mess, this giant shit show, is a little bit orderly. I do not say that simply because I actually know where things are in the piles and mountains, but because by the laws of equilibrium and principal of entropy, I knew it was going to end up like this. I’m not a psychic. It’s the laws of physics that predict that my bedroom will become a huge garbage heap of a mess.
            My next odd thought: What would Buddha think about entropy? I think we can all agree that the world and all its parts are in a constant state of transition. If the inside of my head is predisposed towards chaos, then it’s going to be extra difficult to clean it up. If entropy and equilibrium are involved, reducing the entropy inside of my head (tidying it up) is going to cause the entropy outside of my head to increase. So, if I really wanted to achieve enlightenment, would that give me license to turn into the Tasmanian Devil and leave tornado style wakes in all of my paths? I certainly wouldn’t mind not ever having to clean. Buddha suggests that we should be clean, though, both for our own sake and for others. With the converse approach, if I make my surroundings perfect to inhabit, the entropy in my head is going to increase and I am going to turn into a bumbling buffoon.
            There seems to be quite a huge debate going on amongst the lazy about whether or not being messy is a sign of genius. Albert Einstein was quite a mess. There are plenty of people out there, on the other hand, who are dumber than chewed up bubblegum that live in slovenly filthy heaps. Have you ever seen that show Hoarders? People are messy (lazy and inconsiderate) – they’re not brilliant or enlightened. I AM going to clean my room, and it’s not going to make me less intelligent or less spiritually awakened. And it will immediately tend towards becoming a mess again. That fact I am quite certain of. I think Buddha would probably point out that in the time we’ve spent debating whether or not messes can be equated with intelligence and entropy with enlightenment, we all could have cleaned our spaces and found out for ourselves.

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