With everyone sitting at home these days, there is a lot of talk about self-improvement. All of my social media friends are selling some kind of coaching business -- and being successful at it…so there’s that. The truth is that we all ALWAYS have to be seeking some kind of improvement or we will be moving backwards.
Think about a baseball pitcher or an Olympic gymnast. Even in the “off season” the pitcher must constantly be pitching, or he will lose his ability. A gymnast must consistently train and exercise, or their abilities will slide. In other words, if you don’t use it, you will lose it. If we aren’t constantly moving forward, we will by default, move backwards. This is largely due to the second law of thermodynamics. Yes, I brought physics into this.
The second law of thermodynamics has to do with energy and time. You have probably heard of “the law of entropy” (which isn’t really a law in itself, but it refers to this second law of thermodynamics). The "law of entropy" says that everything (EVERYTHING) is in a constant state of decay. It is the only law of physics that is connected with time, and essentially shows that energy, from the beginning of the universe until now, only moves in one direction. This second law is what makes time travel impossible. Time can flow only from the dead past toward the future, which does not yet exist. Time travel is impossible because it is inherently impossible to move from one state of non-existence to other states of non-existence. The universe would have to cease to exist in order to allow for time travel.
Here’s how entropy works in the real world:
Ice will always melt.
Water will always flow downhill.
Heat flows from a hot object to a cold object (coffee will always get cold).
Your hard drive on your computer will fill up with defects and clutter due to the degeneration of the data it holds.
In the instance of your coffee, the energy moving in the direction from hot to cold follows the line of time, and it cannot move backwards. Time travel would have to be tied to creation itself, and the creation of energy and matter, and the ability to move energy back and forth through time.
So, the law of entropy says that everything is in a constant state of decay…UNLESS!…some external force of energy is applied.
Ice will not melt if it is in a freezer (it is kept in that state by applying more energy). Coffee will not get cold if you keep it warmed (apply more energy). Updating your computer software will keep your computer useful (…again, energy).
The same is true of our brains, our skills, our systems, our relationships. Unless we are focused constantly on improving our world, it will always be moving into decay. Your brain is a computer, and it will degrade over time. Your body is mainly muscle, and it needs to be in regular motion. Playing the piano just ten minutes a day will improve your musical abilities. Spending ten minutes in meaningful conversation a day with a friend or spouse will improve the relationship.
Because we are human, we exist in time. Therefore, ourselves, our working practices, thinking practices, personal efficiency, and relationships will be in state of decay unless we are applying external energy to improve on those specific things: we paint bridges, we heat up our coffee, we freeze our ice, we water our plants, we practice our speaking skills and our musical skills, we make personal connections in relationships, we strive to run harder and faster.
CS Lewis said, “Humans are amphibians...half spirit and half animal...as spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time, means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation--the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks.” [The Screwtape Letters]
As human beings, we are always linked to the present moment, which means we will experience entropy in every area of our lives, unless we apply energy towards progressive change. While we may not be able to move back in time to a “better” state (and after 2020, would we really want to?), we can move forward with intention to move our lives uphill, not downhill.
By: Mae Lewis