Friday, June 3, 2016

Ontology and Wishful Thinking

You won't believe the number of conversations started by the name in vinyl letters, on the back end and side of my trailer "Ontological Research." This signage even got me out
of a ticket one time! I'll explain at the end of this post. Ontology is the study of being, simply put. It involves determining which things or beings exist and categorizing them. Once you start categorizing, then sub-categorizing, the process can be inexhaustible. Questions in categorizing would involve some of the following: What is it? How is it? How much is it? Where is it? When does an object go out of existence, as opposed to merely changing? All aiming, ultimately, at 'What is existence?'  As you can imagine, the trailer label has sparked some pretty interesting conversations over the years.

In a sense, we are all ontologists, if you think about it. We study each other, we categorize each other, we judge each other's existence, and we categorize each others' choices about how we choose to exist.  I am traveling in the research center in the middle of the 2016 presidential campaign. The candidates are not the only ones debating.

I have traveled 2,200 miles of my predicted 5,000+ miles for this trip. From my desert landscape I have crossed high desert then prairie, alongside and over some mountains, down into rolling farmland, across several of the country's unimaginably wide and forceful rivers. Along the way I have visited families as varied as the landscape, though not necessarily matching it, temperamentally or politically. I would categorize these families within three broad groups: conservatives, moderate conservatives, and moderate liberals.

Some of the people I have encountered have started conversations that I don't believe would take place in other than an election year. They express their views on the rights and wrongs of society, of government, of the environment, of sexual orientation, on the sexual identities of children, and the list goes on.

What I see is that the conservatives and liberals are very much alike. They go about their days, their jobs, and their tasks, then come home to families who love them. Each person tries to do what is right by the people who cross their immediate paths in life. They are both working to feed, clothe, and to attain goals they have set for themselves in life.

If I could, I would blend, or blur, the ontological lines dividing these categories of beings. I would like to show everyone, here and everywhere, how much we have in common with each other, how beautiful we each are, how we need to get our priorities straight. 'What priority?' Life! Life matters most. Healthy life. Safe life. Life in harmony -- life with various belief systems that live and let live -- life that can accept that different beliefs just add color to the bouquet. Life! Because, as near as I can tell from my studies, once we die, it's all moot.

It's a beautiful world! I'm happy that I still get to experience it. I love to travel. I love seeing the different landscapes and mindscapes. I love how it cleans the lens on my mind filters, letting in more light and more ideas. It just makes me hungry for future travels.

Now the story of ontology getting me out of a traffic ticket. It was March. I was pulling the ontological research station to Llano River State Park just outside of Junction, TX. I drove through a school zone posted at 25 mph. I remember thinking that the sign should have been posted further back -- the school was right there. In my objective defense I swear I slowed down. It is my mode to travel under a cloak of invisibility (if you do the speed limit, no one will notice you). But apparently I didn't have my cloak on at that moment. I was nearing my friend's home and maybe my anticipation pressed my gas pedal foot a little harder. I really can't say. But a deputy stopped me. As he approached the car I told my big dog, Odin, 'Shhhh.' The officer told me that I had sped through the zone. He told my my speed. I handed him my ID. He asked, "What does 'Ontological Research' mean?" I told him, "It is the study of being. For example, I am studying my behavior and my reaction to being stopped by a law enforcement officer." He chuckled. Off he went to check on my driving record. He came back and let me go with a verbal warning to be more careful. I thanked him and told him to have a good day. Ontological Research saved the day!