Leave It Better Than You Found It

Are you familiar with the phrase “leave a room better than you found it?”

Growing up, I always thought this was some trick to get me to clean things up that weren’t my mess.

As I got older, and more messes were definitely my own responsibility, I realized it was a lot easier to take two minutes to clean a little something as I go than it was to let it pile up and have to deal with a huge mess.

But now I am old enough to see what this statement really means.

Life is an abnormality. The second law of thermodynamics states that entropy in an isolated system is always increasing. If you put two colors of sand in a jar and shake the jar, the sand will only ever become more jumbled. You cannot organize sand by shaking it.

However, if you put a human in the mix, they can organize the grains of sand and separate out the different colors.

Life, during its span of existence, is capable of countering entropy. This is unnatural. This is against the laws of nature. This is our strength. This is our battle cry. This is how we prove to the universe that we exist.

When you clean up your kitchen, you are imposing order on a system whose entire existence moves towards disorder. Vacuuming the carpet is rapidly organizing materials that expected their entire existence to be disorder and chaos. When you scrub your bathroom, you are breaking the rules of the universe.

As living beings, we are capable of directed action. We can do things nothing else in this universe is capable of doing.

When your mother says “leave it better than you found it,” she’s really telling you to prove that you’re alive. To leave a mark on the universe that is a scar against the natural order. To show defiance and spit in the face of chaos. She’s telling you to be a warrior.

I knew there was a reason I enjoyed cleaning so much.