Ontological Things

noun on·tol·o·gy \än-ˈtä-lə-jē\
Definition of ONTOLOGY

: a branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature and relations of being
: a particular theory about the nature of being or the kinds of things that have existence


At 111, one looks back at one’s life and the history one has lived with some awe.  Human existence has changed so drastically in the past 100 years, a person living in 1915 would not recognize the world in which we live today.  Our world would seem dream-like, astonishing, amazing….magical.

When I was 5, my parents obtained our first television set on which I watched Howdy Doody (“Hey Kids!  What Time Is It?  It’s HOWDY DOODY TIME!”) while sitting in front of that ‘big screen’ in a small chair.  


I still have the chair, but the TV is long gone and replaced by larger and larger televisions.  The Zenith radio next to my bed which played the wonderful songs of my teen years was replaced with a transistor radio, both now relegated to museums.


Today, one is “plugged” into one’s music on Smart Phones and earbuds.  (You do see how I keep up, don’t you, with all this new technology?  Ha.)

I took my first ever airplane ride at the age of 36 in a 12 seater.  I loved it!  Since then, I’ve been able to take many flights, some to those ‘far away places with the strange sounding names‘ Gogi Grant brought to my awareness with her songs.

Microwave ovens were large and heavy when first presented to the public, taking up most of one’s limited counter space.


Today they are much smaller, over the stove or mounted sometimes on a shelf, but a staple of everyone’s kitchen.

You’ll be interested to know that my Mother, Chris (who lived to 98), thought the most amazing discovery of her life was the microwave oven.  She loved the thing–it gave her FREEDOM like she’d never known before.  Though she had lived through the era of flight being invented, two world wars, the great depression, the emergence of women in the workforce, it was the microwave oven she cherished as the most liberating thing in her lifetime.

At the time she told me this, I laughed at the idea–but as I’ve gotten older, I have begun to understand her point of view.  Chris was a housewife of the first order and cooking was never her love nor her forte.  The microwave freed her of that dreaded and unloved task.  Allowed her more time to do those other things a housewife does.  (Hint:  it wasn’t going to lunch with the ladies nor shopping.  No.  Chris liked to CLEAN.  The term ‘obsessive/compulsive’ likely has her photo next to it in the encyclopedia?)

The most astounding inventions of my life, however, have to be the personal computer and the internet.  Expansion of knowledge, sharing of ideas, ability to express oneself to many with a few taps to the keyboard or connecting with that incredible ‘television phone’ system called Skype (and now FaceTime on the Smart Phone) available to almost everyone on the planet–this is astonishing.  One’s personal computer, and now ‘Smart Phones’ allow one source connection, a constant connection, with the world.  Radios, TV’s, movie theaters, phones all replaced by one tiny gadget, the stuff of dreams in my youth.  The comic strip, “Dick Tracy” featured that detective’s two way wrist radio which looked like a watch on his arm.  Today it is real.


Only those who can look back and recall when all of these marvelous inventions did not exist are able to appreciate the incredible capabilities human beings have today because of them.  To the younger generations, it is the ‘norm’ and taken for granted as though these gadgets were always ‘there’ and available to everyone.

They are, indeed, magical.

Of course, there are negative results as well for humankind.  I don’t need to extrapolate, you know what they are.  But that’s not the point of this–

Humanity has been obsessed (like Chris, I suppose, compulsively) with lightening the workload, the drudgery of living…..inventing robots to do about anything in our place, including inventing computers which can think and make decisions.  I have to ask, however, what are we going to be doing with all this ‘free time’?  Like Chris, will we simply use that time to do more work?

It seems to be so…..for even though I’ve been retired for years and have many wonderful gadgets, my time could be filled with more……work!  Young working families today are more stressed than my generation, though they have most conveniences at their fingertips, many which have only recently been invented or made available to the public.  Their time is filled, they are ‘booked’, they are constantly ‘connected’ checking their phones, texting, searching online for information, with little free time to just enjoy life.  Conversations are hard to come by–constantly interrupted with texts and notifications.  There seems to be no turn off for this frenzy.

So I have to wonder where all this is going and what the next 100 years will present–what will my young grandchildren experience?  What will their world look like?

It would be nice if SOMEONE who frames our future took some time to speculate on the eventual outcome.  Perhaps it is time we backed off a little bit from all this progress?  Maybe we need to reflect on the past and look forward to the future a bit more?  Where ARE we going?  What is the goal of all these new gadgets?  (I know what is stated as the ‘goal’–but it just hasn’t worked out that way.  We do NOT have more leisure time and freedom.)

Where are the philosophers of our lives?  Or are they us?


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