May 26, 2015

The Arrow of Time

I remember a spectacular fight I once had with my ex-husband, in which we were arguing about time.  While I don't remember the specifics, it must have been about helping out around the house and/or 'being there' as a parent.  Being married to the military is no cake walk, not that I would ever diminish the sacrifice that our soldiers make, but, it does take a toll on family life.  Anyway, the comment that he made that stuck with me was one that spoke to the fact that our mothers both worked when we were young, didn't have the convenience of modern appliances or husbands to help out, yet still managed to get everything done.

It pissed me off at the time, because I didn't have a snappy retort.  Today, I realize that there is a distinct difference.  Modern appliances and conveniences haven't made us more productive or efficient, they have instead paved the way toward filling every minute of our day with more stuff.  Twenty-some years ago, hot shot executives might have a car phone so they could make Very Important Decisions when they were away from their desk.  Today, 5-year old kids have iPhones with more communication capability than we had for the moon landings.  And, if I could go back in time and re-live that argument with my ex, I would point out that kids today have closets and drawers full of clothes that demand to be washed after a single wearing.  They have hours of homework that they need help with.  We have bigger homes, more things to care for.  I am not lazy in comparison to my mother, I am saddled with a million more things to do and think about than she had to deal with.
Things that were supposed to make our lives easier have made them all the more demanding.  Coupled with the overriding theme of 'whoever dies with the most toys wins', we have filled every moment, every nook and cranny, with stuff, and things, and things to do.  Life demands more of us now, and yet the outcomes haven't really changed all that much.  
I am fascinated with something I read about the theory of time: 
The arrow of time is based on ideas that go back to Ludwig Boltzmann, an Austrian physicist in the 1870s. He figured out this thing called entropy. Entropy is just a measure of how disorderly things are. And it tends to grow. That’s the second law of thermodynamics: Entropy goes up with time, things become more disorderly. So, if you neatly stack papers on your desk, and you walk away, you’re not surprised they turn into a mess. You’d be very surprised if a mess turned into neatly stacked papers. That’s entropy and the arrow of time. Entropy goes up as it becomes messier.
That seems to say that no matter what we do to supposedly make our lives easier, the passage of time dictates that they will just become messier and more hectic.

Nothing like a big middle finger from the universe to put things into perspective! 

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