Things fall apart. Every parent knows that. It’s obvious that all cell phones, toys and appliances will be gradually and irrevocably destroyed. The universe is running down. This is also obvious to any mom or dad who comes home at the end of a long work day only to be confronted by their son’s geometry homework. The universe becomes more disordered with the passing of time. Exactly. That’s why my apartment is such a mess.
You’ve just explored The Second law of Thermodynamics. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. All of us should have honorary diplomas in science at this point. We could tape them to our refrigerators to keep them on permanent display so that no one ever questions our credentials again.
……My patience sometimes reaches a Vanishing Point with my 15-year-old son Avery. When you look down a straight line of railroad tracks far into the horizon, the point at which the tracks seems to merge and disappear is the vanishing point -an image at the point of infinity.
I like to think that my patience stretches for miles and miles, but it does not go on forever. It’s perception and reality end at a certain point that is hard to discern with the naked eye. Maybe only Avery can tell you where it ends.
….A few weeks ago, Avery and I were coming home on the Four train from Times Square to our little apartment in New York City. Avery swore the train could not hold us; there was no way we could fit. I convinced him it had not reached its Maximum Density yet. We wedged ourselves in despite some groans and made our merry way home. In cases like this, I am always tempted to break out into a song I learned when I was a bit player in a musical production of “The King and I.” The song is called “Getting to Know You.”
…..When things have fallen apart enough and my patience has reached a vanishing point, I just relax in my own private Sea of Tranquility that I like to call my bathtub. I retreat there some Sunday mornings with a book or a newspaper. People ask about me. I hear them in the distance wondering where I went. No one knows. I am not volunteering my location. I am on the dark side of the moon in a space unreachable to man through ordinary means.
…..Did you know that the difference between science and magic is only perception? Of course you did. My uncle Toby used to perform a sleight of hand trick wherein he produced a quarter from my ear. As you can imagine, I loved this trick and asked for it to be repeated many times. But there are limits. When all his pocket change was gone, my ears must logically have stopped producing quarters like a factory that has met its quota.
All magic is really science since it involves a step by step process that must be tediously practiced and reproduced perfectly as any lab result must be before a paper can be published. The fact that it involves manipulating and misdirecting perception only makes it more wonderfully complicated. Smoke and mirrors are simply tools in the process.
But I actually prefer magic to science in this case. My Uncle Toby, who to this day remains the most magical uncle I have, conjured coins out of thin air just for me. This is what I’ll always choose to believe.
On the other hand, my Uncle Charles, who is an actual scientist who spent his twilight work years inspecting drug factories for the FDA, is always quick to correct my grammar. He’s fluent in French, which vexes me because I could never be. He has no children or wife and lives his life in solitary fashion as far as I can tell in a small apartment in Washington, DC with no television.
Maybe the only way to keep perfect order in your life, avoiding chaos and entropy and the like is to exclude the characters who exude those qualities such as wives and children. But without valid test subjects, what kind of social experiments can be produced? I am always learning something of value from my wife and sons, even if I didn’t want to know it. What would life be without them? Like living in the center of a Black Hole maybe. I shudder to think.
…..It’s obvious that, like the rest of the universe, Avery was created in a Big Bang. This is not a theory. It’s a fact. I hope I’m not being too crass, and I’ll say no more about the celestial event. But it was heavenly.
I don’t understand why I didn’t major in science. Except when I remember that it often involves math. Then it all comes back. This has been Fun with Science or Lessons in Parenting I learned from Yahoo Serious in “Young Einstein.” Tune in next week when we explore the Butterfly Effect with actual butterflies and String Theory with real string cheese.