Entropy is one of my favorite words.

La Catrina

“Entropy is a thermodynamic property that is the measure of a system’s thermal energy per unit temperature that is unavailable for doing useful work. Perhaps the most familiar manifestation of entropy is that, following the laws of thermodynamics, entropy of a closed system always increases and in heat transfer situations, heat energy is transferred from higher temperature components to lower temperature components. In thermally isolated systems, entropy runs in one direction only (it is not a reversible process).” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy)

If one considers the universe as a closed system, then the heat of the stars is being dissipated into the vast void of space. Since space is actually mostly empty, in time all the heat from the stars will be absorbed and the universe will reach a zero capacity to do work. At that point, the universe will be dead.

Now after that moment of zero work capacity, gravity may begin to pull things together and in time all matter could be drawn into one big black hole and the whole Big Bang thing will happen again. That’s too far off to consider here.

My point is that everything dies.

And as a corollary to that, I think we need to celebrate all aspects of existence, both living and dying.

November first was officially the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). This is a national holiday in Mexico when families remember, pray for and celebrate relatives and friends who have died. It has roots in the Aztec culture and is also celebrated in other countries. Similar celebrations appear in some Asian and African cultures.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the fear of death (I Don’t Really Want to Go, http://wp.me/pH3Dx-8k). I think we need to teach the span of life and to celebrate every moment of life. It’s easy when you are young as the initial flowering of life is joy incarnate. And if the young grow up with the old they have the opportunity to develop a more complex appreciation for the whole process. It is the integration of people at all stages of life that lets us set the stage for that continuous celebration of human existence.


Join us for a real-time discussion about  questions raised by this essay on any Wednesday morning at 8:15 to 8:45 a.m.  See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room: http://tinyurl.com/cjfx9ag.


  1. Day of the Dead entry in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_of_the_Dead
  2. Miller, C. Indigenous people wouldn’t let “Day of the Dead” die. The Arizona Republic, no date, http://www.azcentral.com/ent/dead/articles/dead-history.html

For Further Exploration

The Smithsonian Institution’s Latino Center in Second Life has a Day of the Dead celebration with in-world events scheduled from October 31st through November 2nd.
Web site: http://latino.si.edu/education/LVMDayoftheDeadFestival.htm
SLURL to location in Second Life: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Smithsonian%20Latino%20Music/69/162/24


Title: La Catrina
Licensing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Catrinas_2.jpg
Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7c/Catrinas_2.jpg/160px-Catrinas_2.jpg