Everything is progressing towards a state of Entropy- so why bother to clean up your room?

by Helen Wilde

Sometimes it all seems too much- the numerous demands on our time, the things that we have to do over and over again, the dull routine of managing daily life, of trying to keep things in order, to juggle all the balls in the air at the same time; the everydayness of everything just becomes overwhelmingly difficult.

I started this blog two days ago, and stopped because I was just too tired. Tonight I was listening to Sundays with James O’Loghlin while I was washing the dishes, and he was interviewing a range of scientists about the concept of entropy.

The second law of thermodynamics is:
“in all energy exchanges, if no energy enters or leaves the system, the potential energy of the state will always be less than that of the initial state.” This Law seems to say that our efforts ‘to keep our room tidy’, to manage our lives, are futile, as it will all just run down to nothing anyway. That’s if ‘no energy enters or leaves the system’.

Knowing that all things must end, what makes us keep going?
Where do we find the sources of energy that keep us ‘tidying our room’?

You will have your own answers for that. Sometimes it may be a person, perhaps, if we’re lucky, a Health professional, someone who ‘gets’ you, who gives you that little extra, over and above what the system requires them to give, like Helen Edwards’ eye specialist:

He took me in to have pictures taken with his special machine so I could see how cool it was (he did say, oh and to check your macular but mostly to show you how cool it is!) and so I could share with you. He wanted me to tell all of you, that going to have check ups on your eyes? It means he can fix us. And that is very very sweet.”
See more

Or like my 90 year old mother’s gynaecologist, who at Mum’s appointment on Friday morning did not say, ‘Oh you’re too old to be helped’, or ‘Oh you have dementia so I can’t help you’. Instead, she said,’We will try this, and I will also put you on my short list for surgery.’ Knowing that Mum will be 91 soon, not 21, or even 51.

And then there are the joyful Springtime Sunday afternoons when you are able to spend time with those you love, like I did today. Playing wonderful imaginative games with the little ones, on the freshly mowed front lawn, in pop up tents, one tent given to us by a neighbour, a second bought from a Charity shop. Watching my beautiful daughters, so happy with their children.

There is another way of looking at Entropy.

“Actually entropy is a little more abstract, and the second law of thermodynamics implies that the universe will always become increasingly uniform; in other words, everything in an isolated system is seen to work towards attaining a state of equilibrium or balance.”

Now I really like that explanation. I like the thought of equilibrium, of balance. I do want the highs of life though, and so I accept the lows. Life can’t be lived in equilibrium.

‘Entropy’ can be used as a reason to give up, to take a journey across America on the Road with Jack Kerouac, Or it can be used to remind us to Be here Now, to be Mindful, to acknowledge that things will wind down eventually, but so what?

La vita è bella, the time we have is Now.

Helen Wilde

Helen was a long term Senior Counsellor with Diabetes Counselling Online & Teacher. She is mother of a type 1 diabetic since 1979 and a type 2 diabetic herself for many years.


  1. Vivienne on October 13, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Such a thoughtful and thought provoking blog Helen. Thank you. It’s tempting at times of self doubt to stay in the shallow end of the pool where there are no waves but that means no highs or lows, just flat water and as you say, life is all about the highs and lows! x

  2. helwild on October 13, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    thanks Vivienne. You are right, the shallow end is warm and so tempting… and certainly not all bad! Sometimes ‘flat water’ is just what we need for a time- some safe down time to help us welcome the highs and the lows taht life brings. 🙂
    ‘Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in happiness.’ http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/mindfulness.htm