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Energy v. Entropy – Another Pandemic Paradox

Energy v. Entropy – Another Pandemic Paradox

I consider myself a rather vibrant, eager to engage, passionate about life kind of person. And yet…as it becomes possible to cautiously re-emerge from a year-long shutdown from the pandemic, (see the Emerging S-l-o-w-l-y post), I find myself navigating yet another paradox: energy v. entropy: yes! v. no way.

I notice energy and joy quickening as I drive by young kids playing baseball on their school playground or hug several double vaxxed friends for the first time in a year. But I also notice stopping in my tracks and not wanting to budge when I get to once again deal with jury duty and inspection of a new furnace and taking the cats to the vet for their annual teeth cleaning and renewing my driver’s license and getting my taxes done on time.  I feel a bit poopy rather than peppy. 

Entropy is the running down of energy in a system toward inertia, according to my dictionary, and according to my nervous system, too.

I teach all the time about the positive energies in our nervous system: activate a little sympathetic and feel like engaging, creating, producing – how we write symphonies and create governments and take action to solve climate change. Activate the parasympathetic and we relax in a blissful repose – how we take a nap on the beach or fall asleep after making love. 

And I suppose my nervous system is trying to re-balance itself into those two positive modes after a full year of activating too much negative sympathetic – revved up in fight-flight, what I refer to rather affectionately as my “scramble.” Or dropping into too much negative parasympathetic, the dreary doldrums of not moving and not caring. 

How to find the sweet spot of easy joy and enthusiastic engagement again?

While out walking my beloved ridge trail with a good friend, I noticed how easily the vitality began to return as we watched her dog romp with a new best friend puppy. These were the elements of navigating this paradox.

Connection with the aliveness in another human being. This wasn’t so much about being happy together as understanding each other. Holding both poopy and peppy as normal states in our human nervous systems.

Nature.  I love this quote from John Burroughs:

I go to nature to be soothed and to have my senses put in order. 

Watching (smelling!) the green grass grow literally restoring order to my senses.

Play.  As I laughed out loud at the exuberant antics of the two dogs, I wondered how long it had been since I had laughed out loud so easily. There has been so much sorrow and struggle to take seriously in this last long year (and maybe always for most of us).

These few moments on the trail, with my friend, witnessing the aliveness and joyful energy of her dog, gave me a sense of direction in how I can nurture the re-emergence of positive energy in my nervous system, rippling out to the “I get to’s” of the taxes and the driver’s license and the teeth cleaning, etc. 

As always, little and often. That’s how the nervous system re-sets.  Small practices of connection, nature, play, repeated many times. May that come true for you and yours.

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