Epiphany, Entropy and Energy

Today is Epiphany, the start of my favorite liturgical season. It’s not most people’s favorite, maybe because it’s not as “sexy” as Christmas and Easter or as “Christian” as Lent (you know, all the “deprive-yourself-and-feel-bad” stuff that’s often associated with being a devout Christian).

So what makes Epiphany my favorite? The gift of insight.

Technically (or, more appropriately, theologically) Epiphany is when Jesus’ identity is manifested and made known, first to foreigners (the wise men from the East) and eventually to others throughout the season. So, if I’m going to call myself a follower of Jesus, it makes sense to know what and whom I’m following. But as someone who has consistently striven to also “know thyself,” I’ve always used this season to do a little self-evaluation as well, not unlike others who do something similar when writing up their New Year’s resolutions at this time of year.

So, what insights—about myself/world/Jesus—have I gleaned this past year? Or, putting it another way (and stealing from Oprah), what do I know for sure?

I know that: A body at rest tends to stay at rest, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion, unless the body is compelled to change its state. The evidence supporting the first part of this statement is easily seen. We know that a wheel will not begin rolling by itself. However, we do not see the proof of the second half in our world. That is because there is an ever-present inhibiting force known as friction that acts as the external force resisting perpetual motion.” (http://library.thinkquest.org/10401/5rules.html)

I’ll get back to this but first allow me to segue for just a moment. I was trying to think of the exact wording of this law of Newton’s and for some reason thought it had something to do with entropy. So I looked that up and found: “lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.” Not exactly what I was looking for … but, boy, did it hit close to home!

“Lack of order or predictability” has pretty much defined my life since 1997 when I started freelancing as a storyteller/educator. And for the first decade or so I thrived on the excitement and energy generated by that unpredictability. My Myers-Briggs “P” personality loved not having a boss or set office hours or a schedule that could so easily turn into a rut (horror of horrors!). But let’s not forget the second part of entropy’s definition: “gradual decline into disorder.” They say (you know, the nameless faceless “they”) that a strength taken to an extreme becomes a weakness. Maybe it even emphasizes other weaknesses already present. As a Myers-Briggs “P” I am not naturally disciplined. So, left to my own devices—a lifestyle full of unpredictability—a gradual decline into disorder isn’t surprising.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t live in a house full of cats or precariously stacked newspapers/magazines/books* with narrow, labyrinthine paths leading to the ‘frig and bathroom. I bathe regularly and (usually) pay my bills on time. But one thing I’ve learned (and now know for sure) is that I need some structure in my life. Not permanent, unyielding, stifling structure, but some sort of order and predictability. Even that, however, can’t enter the formula unchecked.

Which brings me back to the beginning of Newton’s first law of physics. The one thing that has been predictable, routine, and “structured” in my life the last couple of years is the amount of time I sit in front of the computer. On days when I have no gigs (more often than not), or when I have no other reason to leave the house (more often than you might think), it’s not unusual for me to pretty much spend  a-l-l  d-a-y l-o-n-g on my big ‘ol behind staring at the computer screen. And even when I’m not at home all day, I still find ways to spend a lot of time sitting. The longer I’ve done this, the easier it’s gotten to just keep on doing it. After all, a body at rest tends to stay at rest … . In other words, all [sitting] work and no movement make Tracy a big blob of jello!

This would be true in and of itself but it’s been compounded for me because of changing hormones (and, thus, “natural” middle-age spread) and the fact that the issues surrounding my heel surgery of 2011 started almost two years prior with painful walking and have continued since with an out-of-whack opposite (and I recently found out, arthritic*) hip. So, even though I’ve known that I was leading a less-than-healthy lifestyle, these factors have basically provided enough “friction” to compel my “at rest” body to remain just that … at rest. What would it take to compel my body to change that at-rest state? How about cholesterol at 275 and borderline diabetic glucose levels?

That did it.

Well, that and the fact that I finally got my hip back  … in whack? … and it’s no longer painful to move (I purposely chose not to use the term “exercise”). In other words, there’s a little less “friction” around to prevent motion … of various kinds. I’m taking more walks, climbing more stairs* and not always sitting when the same task could just as easily be done while standing. It’s a start at a little more balance. I mean, I wouldn’t want to go overboard with this! Those nameless, faceless “they” also say that a good rule of thumb for a balanced life is “everything in moderation” but, as a very insightful friend likes to add, “including moderation!” Now that’s a gift of insight! 🙂

So, tune in next week when I’ll regale you with various tales of healthcare by Groupon, what I did to finally fix my hip, and how I’m slowly turning the corner from a body at rest to a body in motion.

* This will be discussed in further detail later in this 2013 Epiphany series.

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