Whether it's cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, or struggling to be well, it seems like my entire waking life is spent battling entropy. I'm defining entropy here as the tendency of all things to have a gradual decline into disorder and chaos. It will ultimately result in what physicists call "the heat death of the universe."
So why am I bothering to dust the mantle every week?
Well, apart from the obvious stuff like how nobody wants to live in filth or wants to use a disgusting bathroom, I have no real answer. It seems like the only answer IS the obvious stuff, the short term and fleeting pleasures of clean sheets or a shiny faucet. But I'm still having trouble getting my brain wrapped around the "why bother?" factor.
It's partly because of little things, like my health issues causing me to run out of steam earlier and earlier each day. And like the various elements of pain starting sooner and sooner each day, and becoming more and more intense. (On a side note, I would like to personally thank La Niña for not having to shovel any snow this past winter. If you knew just how much I hurt every day, you would know how intensely grateful I am for this fact. Now if only there were a similar natural phenomenon to hope for so that the grass this summer will grow to be two inches tall and then STOP. Oh, wait -- it's called "drought," isn't it? I refuse to hope for that.)
My life really is getting ridiculous. By the time I'm finished cooking supper most nights, I'm so crippled up with arthritic and neuropathic pain that my evening consists of whimpering in the recliner until I deem it time to take the pain medication to which I refuse to become addicted or even just dependent. (I do splurge on the nights we have to go out, but only with the non-opiate stuff. I don't care to drive while under the influence of opiates, and if you are on the road here in Pennsylvania, you don't care to have me drive that way either. And I'm not supposed to use things like Motrin, because of how it interacts with Crohn's Disease, but if I take oxycodone to go out, I can't go out ... so Motrin it is. And please don't suggest Tylenol -- I agree with my friend Phil: with Tylenol it's best to skip the middle-man and just drop the tablets directly into the toilet, for all the pain relief it offers. But I digress yet again.)
Exhaustion, pain and depression do not make a good combination for fighting entropy. Like the heat death of the universe, it makes me wonder why I bother. If one day in the future, the universe is going to be a dark, cold uniform expanse of expended matter; if one day my home is going to be torn down or destroyed; if one day I'm going to be ashes in a jar anyway, why not just swallow that entire bottle of little white pills and simply be done with it? It's not like I'm afraid of what happens when I die, or like I'm worried about an afterlife: one of the true comforts of being an atheist and a humanist is the sure knowledge I have that when I'm dead, I'm dead, and there is nothing else beyond my life. Not for a dandelion, not for a stink bug, and not for me.
And that is precisely why I do fight entropy, instead of giving up. Because I believe in no afterlife, because I believe that this life is all I'm ever going to have, I am reluctant to give it up so easily. I want to live it and learn and enjoy and simply be for as long as I can. Like Kurt Vonnegut Jr. said in Cat's Cradle, "Think of all the mud that didn't even get to sit up and look around!" We are the lucky mud that got to sit up and look around. Even hurting, even sad, I get to sit up and look around, and it's completely worth it.
Speaking of mud, I need to go and do something about that hall carpet.