Thursday, September 17, 2015

the motion at the heart of the cosmos

I think my favorite law of thermodynamics (if this isn't your go-to first date question, that will probably explain why you're still single. You've got to know their favorite law of thermodynamics, before you can possibly hope to build any sort of meaningful relationship with them. Back me up on this, happily married friends.) is the second.
There is certainly an explanation of the second law of thermodynamics in scientific-speak, but I prefer to refer to it as: "Everything is literally devolving to shit all the time, and we can't do anything about it." or "The systems of the world tend to disorder aka to effing shit up." or "Everything's nutso, and becoming exponentially more so each day." or "The universe is a cluster cuss."
When you reach the end of each day, you can certainly witness this. By the end of the day, all the events of the entire day have compounded on top of each other, and by the time your head hits the pillow at night, you are much more muddled and chaotic than when you woke up. All the plot thickeners of the day have dulled your mind and thickened your brain, and you got to sleep in a fog saturated with all the stimulations of the day.

But morning is such a serene time.
The second law of thermodynamics rings so true if you wake up in the morning, and before the day starts, everything is fresh.
Before the hustle and bustle of the day, before desire has pulled at your heart, or anger pulled harsh words from your mouth, or jealousy has corrupted a simple joy, there is morning, a time where you simply exist. There is Joy in the morning, and the invitatory psalm invites us to rejoice. For the morning is a time for pure existence, and pure existence is, of course, joy.

I love going on a run in the morning, because I get to see the world as it is waking up.
As I run through the marshy paths of the lake, near my house, the world is quiet. Before the sun is fully in the sky, everything is hushed. The wind ripping through the long prairie grass is gentler, softer, more subdued. The birds trill more delicately, gently, as if not to disturb the slumber of the world.
The trees rustle quietly, and the tin buzz of the cicadas has not yet precipitated by the midday sun.
The world seems so new, as if it has just been broken open, and this is the first day of all days.
The world seems fresh, as if all the stains of last night, and the mistakes and mishaps and ill events of the day before have been washed away.
It is a new day, and nothing has yet marred it.

In the city, you must be alert for places where you can see the sky. I didn't know that I missed the sky, until I went a whole day, and I had not once looked up at the sky, hidden behind grey fog and the soulless grey eyes of skyscraper windows. As I lay in my bed, staring at the warm lights of city windows still aglow--an urban substitute for stars--I noticed the moon hanging in the dark sky. With a shock, I realized I had not looked up once today for heaven.

I was dismayed, for I have never gone a day without looking at the sky.
Each morning I walked to school from Our Little House Off-Campus Senior Year, (a phrase so oft-repeated, it has become mantra), I would walk in the still of a South Bend autumn, or late summer, or early winter, or blushing spring. And the sky each day would tell me something new.

The sunlight streaming through the clouds would signal warmth when the rest of the world was frozen, the sky would signal storm clouds, or a hopeful sunrise.
The sky was a daily companion to me.

And so, as I return, I am more attuned to places where I can see the sky. And one of these is The Reservoir. At The Reservoir, the earth parts to reveal a vast pool of water, and the sky overhead opens up, no longer encroached upon by trees or high-rises, and finally has space to breathe. The tall sentinels of midtown office buildings are pushed down to the end of the horizon, and you have the space you need to step back and evaluate them. Their lights are matrices of moving color over the trees, and they blot the night sky with electric radiance.

Over the stately buildings of the Upper East Side, a very thin glow of translucent blue begins to appear. The glow increases, until a sliver of pink aurora fills the eastern half of the sky, peeking through the Park Avenue apartment complexes and stone churches.

For just a moment, the wild tang of sunrise fills the atmosphere. Dawn cuts through the slumbering blue of the city, it cracks the night time sky like an egg, and out pours the activity of the day.

An egg cracked cannot be put back together.
That's the second law of thermodynamics.
And so the day begins to run its course, the yolk and white running together, mixed more intricately together with each new hour, inseparable, intertwined, chaotic, messy.
Until tomorrow, after our blessed gift of sleep, which erases all the chaos of the day before, and a new day begins. A day that is truly new, that is born in the quiet of our hearts, when we are whole and pure, and sing a simple song of praise as our feet hit the ground.
And the day begins to run its course, tending towards disorder.

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