While Ben Shaberman is not a big believer in signs, this recent one got this attention.
After pulling off my undies one night recently, I noticed that my left testicle was hanging considerably lower than my right. Well, this was a cause for concern, given that my balls had, up to this point, always lived harmoniously, side-by-side. This asymmetry conjured the image of Leonardo DeCaprio (left testicle) slowly sinking into the North Atlantic as Kate Winslet (right testicle) can’t hold on to him any longer. “Good bye, lefty,” she cries. Then, a fade out as Celine Dion yowls in the background.
But after a few minutes, I came to my senses. My testicles didn’t hurt and my plumbing seemed to be working normally. And, these phenomena at my age — let’s just say I am now on AARP’s radar screen — don’t exactly come as a surprise any more. I just have to accept the fact that things don’t hold together as well as they used to. It’s a consequence of entropy, the natural law which dictates that everything in our world moves toward a chaotic state. As time marches on — at least as we perceive it to do — everything around us falls apart. Mountains crumble. Oceans dry up. Passion fades. Photographs blur. Cars, refrigerators, shoes, buildings, roads — they never hold up in the end. One new turd and a fresh diaper is history.
The idea of a singular god — one big guy with omniscient, mystical powers — has never resonated with me. Nor has organized religion, which seems to fall apart the more organized — i.e., the more exclusionary, polarizing, and hubristic — it gets. In 1973, any hope of me accepting a formal spiritual path was lost when I began going on clandestine fishing excursions on Sunday mornings with my gentile buddy Rick in lieu of bar mitzvah lessons. I never looked back.
I do have some beliefs. I believe in non-violence. I believe in taking care of the Earth. And I believe in consuming only plant-based foods, which is really just an extension of my first two beliefs. But that’s about as organized as my belief system has gotten.
For me, entropy has a way of mitigating what I consider to be the wacky tenants of most religions. Entropy’s dominance over spiritual dogma is most evident when you step back and consider that our universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. If you thought it was lonely out here on our almost infinitesimal planet in our wisp of a solar system, well, it’s only getting lonelier. Whoever or whatever is out there — friend, foe, or kinky interstellar voyeur — they’re moving away from us ever faster. Did you ever think you might have abandonment issues? Well, Sparky, you should. Everyone and everything is leaving you and more quickly all the time.
We may find comfort gathering in our various places of organized worship — saying howdy to our fellow believers, putting some money in the basket, and hoping our martyrs can save us in the end — but in the meantime, a relentless and unforgiving reality is swirling around outside. Chaos is our shepherd and a pretty lousy one at that.
No doubt the inevitable result of entropy is daunting. Game over means game over. But I say that if we can learn to embrace entropy, and to accept in the long run that resistance is futile, we’ll learn to better appreciate our ability to forestall entropy, if only for a moment, whether it is through the invention of the wheel, penicillin, or Internet porn. And when I say, “if only for a moment,” I really mean it. The relative time of our existence as a species has been mind-blowingly brief. If we considered the lifetime of our planet thus far to be the equivalent of a year, we humans have only been around for about two hours, which is even less time than the entropy-inspired movie Titanic. It should be duly noted that Titanic’s director, James Cameron, made $100 million for the film, but had to give half that to his ex-wife in a divorce settlement, because he had an affair with an actress on the set. “Iceberg dead ahead, Jimmy!”
If there is someone or something out there that holds dominion over us, I bet its goal is to inspire humility and respect for our mere existence — not to keep us praying and hoping for some great hereafter. Heaven is here and now. Heaven is our miraculous 7 billion human behinds, and all other life on the Earth, roaming and flourishing despite the chaotic and finite ending that entropy is guaranteed to deliver. So, have a good time while you can, because as I can attest, entropy has us by the balls.
Photo: Massimo Menichinelli/Flickr
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