unscrambling the egg

Physics tell us that one of the laws of the universe is this:

You can’t unscramble an egg.

Think about it. It can’t be done. You can freeze liquid water, then heat it and turn it to gas and back to water, but you can’t unscramble an egg. It just won’t unscramble. Hit it with gamma rays, do whatever you want and it won’t unscramble.

scrambled eggs

I like to think of this every time I feel like eating junk food these days. Sure, I can eventually lose the weight I gain from eating Ho-Hos, but those chemicals and those unneeded calories have passed through my body and there is no way to undo that. As you eat, you are either damaging or helping your body, and that damage – although possibly almost infinitely small – can’t be undone.

The same principle applies to finance. If you spend an hour of your life earning $20, then you spend that $20 on a CD, it’s gone. Your life is gone. If you spend two hours getting a listing ready on eBay and you make a profit of $1.34 selling a CD, that time is gone, too. Was it worth that $1.34? Was the initial purchase of the CD worth $20?

And similarly, every time you watch TV you lose a piece of your life.
I know it may sound like an obsessive focus on money, but that is time you could have been working on your education, or coming up with money-saving ideas, or studying investments. Everyone needs to relax, but you have to choose how to spend your life. Watching an episode of Gilligan’s Island for the third time is not what Benjamin Franklin would have done. Tony Robbins has a good bit about watching reruns of programs: he says we have two driving forces in our life, the desire for surprise and the desire for consistency, which are constantly at war. We want to watch a funny TV show for the second time because we know it’s funny; but we also hope something new will happen or we’ll see something we missed before. The chances of both of those desires being met decreases each time you see the same show in reruns. As he says, if you ever watch any TV show or movie more than once – get a life.

And trust me, I do this all the time. I have seen The Matrix and The Russia House so many times I can practically recite them – but I do know it’s time wasted.

So the next time you think about buying that CD or wasting time “making money” on eBay or seeing “that great episode where Gilligan breaks the Professor’s coconut-powered radio” just ask yourself if you really want to scramble that egg. Time is short, and it always – always – moves forward.

Creative Commons License photo credit: swanksalot


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  • I will never get back the 5 minutes I spent reading this post! ack!

    🙂 I couldn’t resist. great stuff.

  • That egg photo is unspeakable vile.

  • I too think this way. How much is my time worth in CDs, or whatever I am looking to purchase. The answer is usually not to spend considering the cost to earn the money.

    Ohh, taking pictures of food is not easy. I’ve done a series of posts now on food (visual guides), and it’s darn hard to make real food look tasty in pics…most food advertising does not contain actual food. 😉

  • There’s danger in worrying too much about being productive every single minute of your life too. Sometimes it’s enough to just live in the moment, whatever you happen to occupy that moment with.

  • #1 The egg looks like a brain and is gross.
    #2 Very good point about the TV! However, I have to admit that it’s my guilty pleasure….TV on DVDs….I only let special people into my apartment to participate in this ritual. Usually it involves eating raw cucumbers (yum!).

  • Maybe I’m weird…but I think the egg looks kinda good. I felt inspired and ate an omelette for lunch.

  • PaidTwice beat me to it. And the egg is making me peckish. And is Buffy really a waste of time? 😉

    But yes, good point. The only time we really have is now…and now…and now.

  • It’s all relative to the person doing the action. You may feel that by watching the matrix for the 20th time your wasting time but as long as your learning something new each time, or realizing something about the film that you didn’t notice before it’s not really wasted. Plus the movie is pretty sweet.
    It’s up to you to say if the time is wasted.
    Btw how do you get that little picture by your name like Micah has?

  • I agree with Deepali. Not everything has to be driven by productivity and efficiency. Sometimes you just need to relax and even do nothing. And I do not feel guilty when there’s “You’ve got mail” on for the n-th time (I can see Steve smirking now ;o) I like the movie, it envokes positive emotions in me, I simply enjoy it and that’s my moment of just being and living.

  • I subscribe to the idea… “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” You have to enjoy yourself once in a while. Everyone needs a break.

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  • No No No No No No!!! you cannot tear me away from my American Idol shows. Not now not ever. Not the reruns either. For me life without it would be so dry and bland. It’s just like guys obsessively watching their favorite sports teams go at it (betting pools exist for tv show competitions these days… so it’s serious business… 😉 ) I just so happen to view reality tv in the same way… 😉

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  • We’re on the same page here, Steve.

    TV is a COMPLETE waste of time, though it does make a good babysitter when I’m trying to write a post… 😀

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