Friday, September 16, 2011

dynamic (dis)equilibrium

one concept that's taught in chemistry is the nature of equilibrium. equilibrium exists when there's a balance between various forces in a system, such that the system is stable and the relationship among the variables are not changing.

having said that, it's always emphasized that stable does not mean static. equilibria can appear in systems that are either. static systems are those in which there are not ongoing interactions (in chemistry this usually means no ongoing chemical reactions). dynamic systems, however, are ones where interactions are constantly happening (for chemistry, this generally means that the system continues to experience chemical reactions). as a result, as much as there can be static equilibria there can also be dynamic equilibria.

equilibria themselves, of course, can change. a system that is stable can experience a perturbation that disrupts the relationship between variables. sometimes the perturbations can be accommodated, so that after an initial phase of disruption and instability the system adapts to a new balance between variables and reaches a new equilibrium at a different state. sometimes, however, the perturbations are large enough that the system is thrown completely out of balance and is unable to find a new equilibrium.

i've found this concept useful in the course of living, whether as an analogy or a literal explanation how things work. for some people, life is static, and it's fairly easy to find and hold an equilibrium between all their responsibilities and interests.

for others (particularly those leading active lifestyles), however, things are more dynamic. our lives tend to be a juggling act, wherein we're constantly trying to balance different and often competing demands on our time and energy. most of the time, we're usually able to find some success working through some fixed regular schedule that allows us some point of reference from which we can find our own equilibrium.

most of the time.

life, as we know, has a way of not being fixed or regular. and the more fluid our lifestyle the more fluid our life. meaning that we're invariably buffeted by all manner of perturbations in the system of our demands. perturbations from a job, a family, acquaintances, strangers, creatures, objects, things, obstacles and injuries and mistakes and conditions outside of our control. anything and everything we invariably encounter as we make our way through whatever we find in this experience that is this existence that we call life. and every time there's a perturbation, we're caught trying working through the increased chaos as we try to make the transition to a new state of equilibrium.

which isn't always easy. because, as we know, the transition is always a little messy.

we all know what this means. we've all experienced the symptoms. inconsistent and inadequate sleep. erratic eating. unstable attention span. lapses in concentration. disorientation. confusion. all combined with elevated stress and an air of freneticism.

it's not always fun. especially since in the back of your mind, there's always the concern if whether the disturbance in the system is the one of a scale that you can't accommodate--that is, if it's the one that you can't restore to equilibrium.

the one, in short, that can derail your journey and your race.

it's enough to drive ourselves crazy.

for all the anxiety, however, we have to maintain our drive. our belief in our capacity to recover, a faith in a stable outcome, a commitment to making the transition to a new equilibrium.  because if we don't, then all we are is a figment of an imagination lost in the chaos of a universe beyond our understanding. and in that environment, the system of our lives will collapse on its own for lack of our own internal energy...and a system without energy is not a system. it's death.

and we're not ready for that.

which is why it's important to try. to work. to act. someway. somehow. here. now. because if we do, we at least provide ourselves some chance of making our aspirations a reality and continuing our mission to find our hopes made real in the midst of the chaos of this universe even though it's beyond any understanding. and in such an environment, the system of our lives can survive just a little bit longer from the devotion of our own internal energy...and a system with energy is more than just a system.

it's life.

dynamic to the end.

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