Navigating a Whackadoodle World: Episode Eleven

The Power of Entropy: A Whackadoodle example of what happens when you let entropy take over your life, along with some excellent advice from a friend regarding nourishment. If you have entered this story in the middle, click here for the table of contents.


I received an emergency email from my precocious young student the night before our weekly tutoring session:

Dear Miss Lynn,

I think I know why you have been stuck for the past few months on your rule Eleven prequel. Please don’t delete anything more until I get there tomorrow.

Can’t wait to share it with you!!!!!!!!

I have to admit that I had been struggling with writing about rule eleven for months. Ironic that I was feeling the impact of entropy at the very moment that I was required to write about it.

For those of you who don’t know, entropy is a a complicated word that has multiple meanings depending on which specialist is using it. The word has different connotations within diverse fields, from classical thermodynamics, where the tendency for closed working systems to run out of energy was first recognized, to the microscopic description of nature in statistical physics, and to the principles of information theory. According to Wikipedia, entropy has found far-ranging applications in chemistry and physics, in biological systems and their relation to life, in cosmologyeconomicssociologyweather scienceclimate change, and information systems including the transmission of information in telecommunication.

For me, entropy has always reminded me that without nourishment and input, systems tend to fall apart. You know; if you don’t put oil in your engine, your engine will seize up. If you stop introducing your mind to new ideas, your mind will start dismissing new ideas. If you stop finding a way to laugh and spread joy, you start to forget how important laughter and joy is. And if you stop eating, you get too weak to go food hunting.

For an artist like me, that nourishment tends to come from a sense of community and feedback. The applause at the end of a play. A review that you can cut out of the paper and send to your mom. A paying contract that allows you to share work that you love. A great new story that demands to be told.

When writers receive no feedback, they start to worrying that they’ve been talking to themselves. Entropy at work. Systems falling apart.

For politicians, nourishment tends to comes from donations, media attention, votes, and in the best cases, community feedback. For media, the feedback tends to comes from ratings, clicks, shares, and whether or not they can fill their stockholders’ pockets. Which reminds me; these days, media has taken over the news.

When I was young, the news was boring. It was broadcast twice each evening: from six to seven, then repeated from ten to eleven. Sometimes there was an early morning broadcast. The broadcasters simply stated the facts, and then cited their evidence. More importantly, the federal equal time rule and the now-repealed fairness doctrine, required broadcasters to treat all political candidates equally in terms of air time, and to always include all sides in any controversial issue.

These days, the media is everywhere at all times. We carry the media around in our pockets. The equal time rule and fairness doctrines are largely ignored. Instead, the media is more often full of entertainment and opinions rather than information. People hear one side of an argument, but seldom get to hear the many other sides. More often than I like, the media contains little more than us-versus-them name calling.

Don’t get me wrong. I love a good opinion, but opinion is not news unless that opinion also includes evidence, proof, and facts. Without the nourishment of proof, evidence, and facts, our ability to distinguish truth from fiction begins to fall apart.

Anyway, my student came into our session the next day ten minutes early, swung her backpack down on my kitchen table, and said with a flourish, “You forgot one.”

“Greetings to you too,” I said, taking a sip of my tea as I sat down across from her backpack.

“Sorry, sorry,” she said, pulling out her chair. “It’s just that I realized yesterday that you forgot one.”

“I forgot one what?” I asked between sips.

“In rule eleven, you have seven major assets that need nourishment: body, emotions, mind, spirit, environment, finances, relationships.” She’d counted them off on her fingers before looking me in the eye. “I think that you forgot one, and it’s an important one. Maybe the most important of all.”

“And which one was that?”

“Community,” she said, sitting down with emphasis. “I mean what about our local communities, our local politics, our local educational systems, our local businesses? Don’t we need to invest in them, so they don’t fall apart.”

“Sounds like you think I’ve forgotten more than one thing that needs nourishment.”

“Well I think they all kind of fall into the same category,” she explain with excitement. “Maybe we should call it Civic Engagement.” I couldn’t help but smile, which caused an immediate reaction. “Why are you laughing at me?” she asked with a scowl.

“Because when I wrote my first book, I wasn’t trying to save the world,” I answered. “I was just trying to help people solve their own problems.”

“And you think that I am trying to save the world?” she asked a bit dumbfounded.

“Well aren’t you?” I replied. “You want to take on local politics, local education, local businesses, and goodness knows what else.”

“I don’t want to take on anything,” she insisted. “I just think that community should be something we invest in.”

“And I agree,” I assured her. “Unfortunately, it is hard to invest when you have nothing left to invest.”

“So do you think it’s too late to invest in a community?”

“No,” I laughed. “It’s never too late to invest. The question is whether individuals want, or are able, to invest. In my first book, I was focused on the ways people could nourish themselves. I didn’t included how they could also nourish their communities because if you’ve not invested in yourself, it’s difficult to invest in your community.”

“Is that why you chose to focus on just those seven? Why you called them the seven major life assets? Because if those seven areas of your life are falling apart, it is hard to invest in anything else?”

“I suppose so,” I agreed, standing up to refill my tea cup. “I suppose that I focused on them because at the time, they seemed the most important assets an individual needed to nourish. I never considered the need to nourish our economy, our democracy, or our world because, at the time, our economy, our democracy, and our world seemed to be nourishing themselves. My mistake. One must never underestimate the power of entropy.”

“What do you mean that they seemed to be nourishing themselves?”

“I grew up watching a president who committed a crime actually be forced to resign by his own party. You have grown up watching a president being impeached twice, even though both parties knew that there was no way a Republican Senate would convict him.” I added as an afterthought, “It was like the trial in To Kill a Mockingbird.”

“How do you mean?” she asked confused.

“Atticus Finch took Tom Robinson’s case, knowing he would likely lose because the jury had already made a decision before any evidence had been presented. Same thing happened with Forty-Five’s two impeachments. We all knew before the trial began that the house would impeach him and the Senate would acquit him. Still, you have to honor any attempt at justice.” I looked at her and shook my head. “Sorry kid. I guess that I am trying to explain that I grew up thinking that our government actually worked.” I looked at her sadly.

“And I did not,” she finished for me.

I nodded and sat back down. “I never saw police brutality the way you see it, captured on video. I never lived through climate change the way you are living through it. I never noticed how slow the justice system works, and how often it fails.” I put down my tea cup with a ironic smile. “I grew up watching the Berlin wall come down. I grew up when the world felt less dangerous, and when the rule of law seemed to be working. The Civil Rights Act had just been passed, and the Voting Rights Act came soon after.” I stared down into my tea cup before continuing. “If I were one to think optimistically, I would say that the past few years have taught me more about civics, justice, education, politics, and international relationships than any AP course ever could. I only wish that I had learned those things when I was your age.”

“Well, I am my age, and I have lived through them,” she told me. “I have actually learned quite a bit about them during the past few years myself.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “I think you have.”

“So how do we fix the things that are broken?”

“Tell me what things you mean,” I retorted. “Good lord, if I were to try to explain all the systems that need better nourishment; plus the many ways those systems have been either nourishment, starved, or corrupted; I would be writing forever and this post would never get posted. Entropy effects everything.” I threw my arms up in the air in an explosion of emotion that surprised even me.

“But doesn’t entropy say that it’s closed systems that fall apart? That it’s closed systems that eventually become inert and irrelevant?” she continued emphatically. “So how do we open up those systems? Surly there are few things that all those systems have in common?”

I looked her in the eyes and finally smiled. “I might start with the energy of young people like you. Young energy is always full of new ideas, new questions, and new ways of looking at things. Young energy always adds to any conversation. Could be why I like tutoring so much,” I added as an afterthought.

“Sure, great, you like tutoring,” she waved her hands in the air. “What do we do to open all the systems up, and get them growing again?”

“With energies like yours,” I repeated. “Why do you think autocrats always try to restrict information and education? Why do they always want to ban books? Why do they want to make it harder for people to vote?” I asked, then decided to answerer my own question before she had a chance to consider it. “Because they are afraid of young minds like yours. They are afraid of what changes you might make.”

“Why do adults always expect young people to do everything?” she asked in disgust.

“Maybe because us old fogies are feeling the effects of entropy,” I couldn’t help but laugh.

“You’re not an old foggy,” she retaliated. “You’re just stuck.”


She stared at me for a while then added in a calm voice, “I know how many times you have tried to rewrite this article, always trying to make it perfect,” she shook her head at me. “As you well know, there is no such thing as perfect. I think that trying to be perfect has closed you off. Even your fourteen rules are subject to entropy.”

“Too right,” I admitted with a snort.

She shot me one of her stern, probing looks, “No,” she muttered to her self. “It’s more than being stuck.” She sat bolt upright. “When was the last time you ate?”

“I don’t know,” I muttered. “Sometime yesterday.”

“What was it?”

“I don’t remember.” She said nothing, waiting for my answer. “Okay,” I thought back. “I think maybe I had yogurt and a banana.”

“That’s all you had all day?” I shrugged in agreement and she continued, asking, “What about the day before?”

“I don’t know. Maybe some toast.”

“How often do you go all day without eating anything?” Her eyes narrowed.

“Okay, you got me,” I lifted my hands in surrender. “I skip eating a lot. Sometimes, I am just too tired to eat,” I added defensively.

“You’re tired all the time as well?” she asked thoughtfully. “How do you feel when you wake up?”

“Like going back to sleep,” answered drily. “What’s your point?”

She ignored me, and switched topics. “When was the last time you posted an article?”

“I don’t remember,” I shrugged. “I think it was sometime last December.”

She counted the months out on her fingers, then informed me, “That’s more than five months ago.”

“Thanks for pointing out my failures,” I said with as much snark as I could muster. “Otherwise, I might not have noticed them.”

Her head cocked to one side. “What do you know about the Pennsylvanian Senator John Fetterman?” she asked abruptly.

Rather startled by her question, I thought for a moment, then decided it was easiest to just answer her. “Well, I know that he was Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Governor before he ran for a Senate seat. I know that he ran some truly funny ads during his last election campaign. I know that I love how he used humor instead of attacks throughout his campaign. I also know that he had a stroke one month before the general election, but he still won.”

“Did you know that he check himself into the hospital because he was suffering from depression?” she interrupted.

“Yeah, I’d heard that.”

“Once time, when he got interviewed about it,” she continued. “He said that the symptoms that tipped him off were a loss of appetite, wanting to sleep all the time, and a feeling of disengagement.”

“A feeling of disengagement?” I echoed.

“Yeah,” she nodded. “Like you just stop caring about the stuff you used to care about because you don’t really have the energy to do anything but sleep. You also don’t have the energy to care about yourself, let alone someone else.”

“And you think that’s me,” I concluded for her.

“Well, it would explain a lot, wouldn’t it?”

“Interesting diagnosis, Doctor Druthers,” I said, rolling my eyes. “And what exactly is your recommended treatment?”

“Well I’d start with breakfast,” she said getting up and heading to my refrigerator. “And it would hurt for you to start following some of you own advice about feeding your seven major life assets,” she added from behind the door. “All that sleep has obvious starved them.”

“I’d don’t think so,” I countered. “Feeding my body, emotions, mind, spirit, environment, finances, and relationships sounds exhausting.”

She stood up to glare at me over the door. “You don’t have to feed every one of them at once. You might just start by admitting to yourself that you’re depressed. Maybe start reaching out to others. Letting them know how you’ve been feeling. Try to uncover your depression’s roots. Ask for help occasionally. Find a friend who understands. Stop trying to hide it.” She bent over and began rummaging through my food, looking for something appetizing. “Besides,” she went on from behind the door, “You say in your book that many activities can feed all seven at the same time.” she paused, grunting, then added. “How does a toasted cheese sandwich with a side of fruit sound?”

“Add a few tomato slices to the sandwich, and it sounds kind of heavenly,” I admitted with a sigh.

I watched her bustle through my kitchen, painstakingly assembling a tasty meal just for me, when suddenly tears began filling my eyes. I was saved from breaking down by a sudden growling of my stomach, followed instantly by an insatiable desire to giggle. The growl had been loud enough for her to hear, and she started to laugh with me. “At least your stomach knows what it wants,” she quipped.

I thought back to to the moment I had started this article. I had so many plans for it, quickly discarded. I was planning to answer my student’s original question. How do we invest in our communities, our nation, and our world? What tools do we have that encourage growth? How does one boycott? How does one build a community? How does one mount an effective protest, provide legislative testimony, or advocate for bills? How do we hold our media and corporations to just standards of conduct? For that matter, what systems do we have in place to hold our elected and appointed officials accountable? Finally, how do we educate ourselves and others regarding these tools?

Once it became clear that answering her questions would require a book in itself, rather than an article explaining the effects of entropy, I did a lot of deleting, and began looking for other possibilities. For a while, I played with the idea using the House’s 1929 Permanent Reapportionment Act, which permanently capped House membership to 435, as an example of how entropy effects our government. In 1929, each Representative served less that 300,000 constituents, even though our Constitution requires “The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative.” In 1929, Representative Edgar Crumpacker of Indiana apposed the new act, declaring at the time:

“Members are . . . supposed to reflect the opinion and to stand for the wishes of their constituents. If we make the ratio [of persons per Representative] too large the idea of representation becomes attenuated and less definite. The personal interest of the voter in his representative becomes less important to him, and we may lose something of the vital strength of our representative form of government.”

I tend to agree with him, especially when today each Representative serves somewhere between 542,704 to 990,837 constituents, depending on which state they represent.

I also played with the idea of using the Judiciary Act of 1869 to examine how limiting the number of justices on the Supreme Court to nine, had allowed entropy to creep into our justice system. In 1869, America had nine circuit courts, so congress decided to appoint one justice per circuit. That is essentially why we got nine supreme court justices. In addition, all justices were required to “ride circuit” in their districts every two years. Today, we have thirteen circuit districts but still only nine justices, and those justices haven’t been required by congress to ride circuit since congress passed The Judicial Code of 1911. Perhaps a reexamination of those laws might bring some much needed nourishment to our justice systems.

Finally, I considered starting the article over again, and writing about the many things that feed entropy, and discourage growth: preconceptions, grudges, ignorance, assumptions, gullibility, dogma, obligation, helplessness, stress, loneliness, conflict, loss, grief, resentment, narcissism, anger, as well as any guilt felt from feeling the above. Of course, as my list kept growing, it started to look more like a book outline than an article about entropy, so I scrubbed that idea as well. It was about that time, I started avoiding my computer.

A plate sliding in front of me startled me out of my reverie, and I looked down at a carefully crafted toasted cheese and tomato sandwich, a side of pickles, chips, and a large helping of yogurt-dressed fruit salad on a bed of lettuce. “There you go,” she said in a light voice. “Hope it’s enough to do the job.” She sidled around to the other side of the table and took her seat. “Okay,” she added, propping her elbows on the table, and her chin on her fists. “I’m all ears.”

“I beg your pardon?” I said hesitantly, the sandwich halfway to my lips.

“If you have been depressed, you need to talk about how you got there,” she said emphatically. “I promise that I have been studying rule twelve and have learned a lot about listening reflectively. I am not gonna offer any advice, or opinions. I am not gonna judge you, or bring up well meaning platitudes designed to help you feel better. I am just gonna be your sounding board. We can consider it good practice for next week’s lesson on communication and understanding, okay?” and she punctuated her little speech with a grin full of pride.

“You’re not expecting me to spill my guts in a public article published on the Internet, are you?”

“Of course not,” she assured me. “I’m simply expecting you to stop typing, feed your face, and trust me to know how to keep a confidence.”

And that’s exactly what I did.


Click here if you would like to take a Whackadoodle detour in which my student checks up on me to make sure that I am eating enough, and learns a few other things about diet and depression.


Click Here

Navigating a Whackadoodle World: Episode Twelve

The Power of Communication and Understanding


If you would like to have me email you our next episode once it’s gets posted, please join our mailing list.


If you you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment below. It helps our algorithm.

It would also be great if you shared this post. It also helps our algorithm.

If you would like to join Lynn’s mailing list, or ask a Dear Navigator question click here

Ask the Navigator

You can reach Lynn Marie Sager at

Or join her mailing list


  • Navigating Life in a Whackadoodle World
  • Finding Sense in a Whackadoodle World
  • Teaching Logic in a Whackadoodle World
  • Navigating Life Through Turbulent Tides
  • A River Worth Riding: Fourteen Rules for Navigating Life

Check out her website at

Visit Lynn’s Amazon Author’s Page to read her books

Leave a Comment