You Can’t Unscramble an Egg

“People have no idea what time is. They think it’s a line, spinning out from three seconds behind them, then vanishing just as fast into the three seconds of fog just ahead. They can’t see that time is one spreading ring wrapped around another, outward and outward until the thinnest skin of Now depends for its being on the enormous mass of everything that has already died.” Douglas Powers

Meditations in Motion

I had just finished a run and was standing on the front porch with my dog Benji, staring off into space. It was raining, a cold, late fall sort of rain.

Suddenly, a tiny gray and white puffball streaked across my field of vision and landed on the birch tree next to the porch. It was a kinglet. The first of the season. Kinglets live here only in the winter. For them, this is South. Apparently, Lititz, Pennsylvania is the kinglet version of Miami Beach.

Kinglets are carnivores. They eat insects. Even on the coldest days, they somehow find spiders, insect eggs and moth caterpillars to feed on. They weigh about as much as a nickel.

This is how we humans mark time; we notice the date we see the first kinglet, the first snowflake, the first robin of spring. Seeing the kinglet made me think about the passage of time.

Time is a topic studied by only a very few scientists, mostly physicists. It’s something we take for granted, the linear passage of time, but it’s really not always linear at all.

 

Meditations in Motion
Photo credit: NASA

Gravity affects time. That means that a massive object like the earth causes time to warp,  which means that time runs slower near the surface of the earth than, say, at the top of the Empire State Building. This is yet another benefit of renting a penthouse apartment in a very tall building. The GPS that you use to get from point A to Point B or the one you wear on your wrist to map your run depends on this phenomenon.

Scientists believe that time began at the Big Bang and travels irreversibly in only one direction, from past to present to future. That’s why we can remember the past but we can’t remember the future.

The irreversibility of time is a big drawback if you ask me (but no one ever has). There have been quite a few instances where I would like to go five minutes back into the past and have a do-over.

There is a concept called entropy, which is a fancy, scientific name for disorder. According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, entropy always increases in a system over time.

Meditations in Motion

Entropy is why you can scramble an egg, but you can’t unscramble it. An egg has low entropy; a scrambled egg has high entropy. Entropy, like time, travels in one direction. I don’t know why scientists don’t just call entropy “disorder” or even “messiness“.  I suspect it’s just to confuse us.

At the beginning of the universe, entropy was very low. It has been increasing ever since. That’s why there is no time before the Big Bang. This is the point at which entropy was equal to zero, a perfectly ordered universe. Talking about the time before the Big Bang would be like asking “What is north of the North Pole?

This is also the reason why, when I was a teacher, my desk was perpetually covered with papers, seemingly strewn about in a haphazard manner. Oh, I had them arranged in a neat pile at one time, but entropy caused them to rearrange themselves into a jumbled heap. A colleague of mine used to ask me if a paper bomb went off on my desk. “Entropy,” I would reply, sadly shaking my head.

Meditations in Motion

Stephen Hawking, near the end of his remarkable life, thought and wrote about time. The universe is made of essentially three things: mass, energy, and space.

If you consider Einstein’s (E = mc2) equation, energy and mass are interchangeable, so that means there are really only two ingredients that make up our universe, energy and space. “At the moment of the Big Bang, an entire universe came into existence, and with it, space. It all inflated like a big balloon being blown up,” Hawking wrote.

Hawking may have thought about time more than any other human being. Not only was he a brilliant scientist, but he also suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, for which he was diagnosed in his 20s.

He was not expected to survive much beyond 30. Time was precious to him, so he made a conscious decision to appreciate every moment, to explore the universe with his mind, and to make each second count. “After my expectations had been reduced to zero, every new day became a bonus, and I began to appreciate everything I did have,” he explained.

Hawking died in March at age 76, far outliving all predictions of his life expectancy.

Meditations in Motion

We all have a limited amount of time. Even though we may not live day to day with an imminent death sentence as Hawking did, our time here on earth is finite.

Living our lives passionately and intentionally, as Hawking did, allows us to make the most of the time we have.

Each day is a gift. There is nothing more important, more valuable than time. Make sure you are spending your time wisely, because, after all, time is all we have.

So be kind, play outside, give generously to friends, family, and charity, appreciate art and nature, smile at children, express your love, count your blessings, and learn, learn, never stop learning,

As for me, I think I will spend more time with Benji on the porch, staring off into space, watching the rain, and thinking about time and other weighty matters.

 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

I am linking up with My Random Musings for Anything Goes, Denyse Whelan Blogs for Life This Week, Esme Salon for Senior Salon, Bethere2day for Wordless Wednesday, and Random-osity for The Good, The Random, The Fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

64 comments

  1. You must have been a science teacher. I had to reread a couple of sentences as they were well out of my realm which usually stays in entropy as you described your desk. Thank goodness for the love, beauty and forgiveness of Christ. I can see him just shaking his head at me sometime.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t spend a lot of time trying to understand time because I think while we are in bodies that will decay and die all our thinking is based on beginnings and endings. It’s impossible to imagine a time without end. My one near death experience made me unafraid of being dead although not necessarily looking forward to what leads up to it. Love those kinglets – so cute.

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  3. Laurie – I occasionally listen to a morning radio host who always opens his show by saying what number day of the year it is, how many days are remaining, and then he’ll add “each day is a gift.” Truer words were never spoken – thank you for reminding us to cherish each day and spend our time wisely. I know I must make the most of my days and not fritter them away. With Winter and the inevitable bad weather that accompanies it, I intend to spend more time pursuing other hobbies as I mentioned to you before. I will still be here of course, but I need to stay on task and return to reading and other hobbies that have somehow gotten left behind the past decade.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that philosophy, Linda. We get to unwrap our gift each day and each day it’s something fresh, different and new. We never know what’s in store. I wrote this mostly aimed at ME! I was spending too much time parked on my butt frittering time away. I don’t mind wasting time, but not on my laptop! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. All true and beautifully expressed, and more evidence for my strongly held belief that one of the best uses of time is to creatively, joyfully “waste” it. I love thinking about stuff like this . . . have you caught any of Daniel Hoffman in a podcast or Ted talk? He’s a scientist who’s devoted to solving the “hard problem” of consciousness. I think you’d be as fascinated as I am: https://www.ted.com/talks/donald_hoffman_do_we_see_reality_as_it_is?language=en

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am a big advocate of “wasting” time. I think we are altogether too interested in time-saving devices and time management. I was just listening to the TED Radio hour on NPR this weekend. I have never heard of Daniel Hoffman, but thanks for the link. I will check it out!

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  5. Entropy… I must remember that excuse! 🙂
    This is a fascinating post – I learned a lot about time. It is so hard to get our heads around, but I agree, the important thing is to make the most of our time and do our best to use it well.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. oh how wise this post is. “If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of. Bruce Lee” I always remember being told to keep a tidy desk at work. I tried….when tidy i couldn’t find what I was looking for but once the desk was untidy I knew exactly where the thing I was looking for was! #SeniSal

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nice post Laurie 😀.

    The philisofical and scientific study of time, I’ve forgotten so much on the subject as it was one of my hobby subjects but precog. is one that really fasinated me as they say it’s scientifically impossible yet it existe.

    There’s a old qwote from Budda I read a long time ago that took me a long time to realize ” There’s nothing like sitting under a tree and watching the grass grow ” or something to that aeffect.

    ❤️✌️
    BY FOR NOW

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Cool example with the egg! And the post had a great flow – although I have heard that Hawkins was closed to spiritual things (his loss) but love how you expounded on his zest for life and valuing each day as opposed to an negatives – he really did seem to have joy – and that great mind!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well-said. I have lived far too much of my life, ‘waiting for the next thing, something to finish’ and it’s not great. I think in some ways recovery (long time) from cancer surgeries taught me I cannot fast forward time. Thank you for linking up for life this week. Next week’s optional prompt is 47/51 Do You Celebrate “zero” Birthdays? 25/11/19 Hope to see you there. Denyse

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Denyse. Recovering from serious surgeries can make you appreciate every second. Thank you for the opportunity to link up. I am taking a one-week blogging break for Thanksgiving next week, but I will be back the first week in December!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. It was the title which drew me over here and what a joy of a read…I would have loved to have dinner with Stephen Hawkins if ever I am asked who I would pick past or present to dinner he is on my list…his mind fascinated me…I also now have a new word…Loved this post 🙂 #sensai

    Liked by 1 person

  11. As a Christian, I struggle with the faith necessary to believe the ‘Big Bang’ more than the faith to believe in a Creator ;). I recently read a biography of Einstein, and although I feel a bit more versed in science, I know that science can’t explain everything.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Interesting post, which I found via the #SeniSal. Time fascinates me too and I’ve written about it – but with none of your scientific approach. That’s way beyond my brain to cope with!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So thankful that we had Stephen Hawking to figure out heavy things like this, because if the world depended on me for anything near as deep, we would be in terrible shape. However, I do know how to make the most of many of my days. Every once in awhile a day comes a long where I feel like I have wasted precious time but not too often. I noticed ducks flying south today. You are right, we do mark time and seasons with the first sightings of a bird, butterfly, snowflake or rosebud. If we take time to notice them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He certainly did have an amazing mind. We each contribute in our own way. Mr. Hawking’s contributions came from that incredible mind of his. I think I make the most of my days too. Sometimes the time we “waste” is actually time well spent!

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  14. Somehow I missed your post and saw a link to it in Jo’s, so popped over (better late than never!) I’ve been thinking a lot about life flashing by and time seeming to speed up post 50 – I feel like we’re past the halfway mark and I don’t want to waste any more time on people and things that don’t bring me joy. I’m going to fight entrophy by being happy and un-busy, and living a simple life that feels slower – and I’ll stay on the ground floor as much as possible to keep time to a slower pace!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right – time does go by so much more quickly as we get older. I don’t want to waste my time either on things that bring me down. W need to focus on what brings us joy. Too bad it took me so long to figure that out, but better late than never! 🙂

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