Ron Colone: On the subject of all those scars

RON COLONE

My wife pressed the button to end the call and said, "That’s something I haven’t heard in a long time."

“What’s that,” I asked.

“A busy signal.”

She was, of course, harkening back to the days before cellphones, call waiting and answering services.

Not five minutes later, as I was scrolling through the social media posts on my phone, and with me still thinking about things that have come and gone or are going, I came across one that said, “What’s a saying that kids nowadays will never know? I’ll start … 'Roll the window down,' a reference to the fact that (most) everything has become electronic."

I tried thinking of a saying to add as a reply, but no specific one came to mind. I did think of phone booths and how there aren’t any anymore, at least not around here. I thought of bedside alarm clocks and maps and road atlases, TV guides, and how not being home and in front of your TV set when a particular show comes on no longer means you missed it; you can just watch it the next day online, or hit “record” and watch it whenever.

Take, for instance, this latest Relief Bill. The vote was split down party lines, with one side voting “yes” and the other side “no.” I wonder how those same members of Congress would have voted if 80% of their income was gobbled up by bills and the remaining 20% was barely enough to get by on?

All remnants of an ever-changing world.

Some say it started with the Big Bang, which, I have to remind myself that even though it probes the vast reaches of time and space, is fairly recent as far as theories go. It’s only in my lifetime that the Big Bang theory has been considered the best explanation for how stars and planets and galaxies were formed and how every particle in the universe came to be.

It was first proposed in 1927 by a Catholic priest from Belgium, who also had a doctorate in cosmology from MIT. His name was George Lemaitre, and he figured if the universe is expanding (which is where Einstein’s general theory seemed to be leading us, and also what Edwin Hubble observed through the biggest telescope in the world at Mt. Wilson in California) then that means yesterday the universe was smaller than it is now and last year smaller still. Lemaitre reasoned that if you keep going back and back to when it was smaller and smaller, eventually you get down to a single point that he called “the primeval atom.” That single point, which “they” figure was about a 1/10 of an inch in diameter, and which contained all of the energy in the universe, exploded in all directions, giving rise to space and time, and an expansion that continues to this day.

Considering how some people seem to always be trying to pit science and religion against each other, you might think that the proposal of such a theory would set the priest at odds with the church, in the way that Galileo’s support of Copernicus’ theory led to his arrest, but such was not the case. For Lemaitre, and I’m guessing for Galileo, too, there was no such conflict between science and faith. His pope — Pius XII — even went as far as to call Lemaitre’s theory “a validation of the Catholic faith.”

Lemaitre didn’t agree, but neither did he argue. 

It doesn’t take a doctorate in cosmology or the biggest telescope in the world to know that things change. All you need to do is look around to see that everything and everyone changes.

The shape of the coastline, the contour of the mountain, who wins and who loses, how we look and how we think and how our bodies feel — it all changes over time. Our relationships change — new ones come along, others fade away; most just go through their periods and phases of change. 

That the technologies and the vernacular would change is not surprising. The ones we’ve shared with others tie us together in time, generationally and through stories and remembrances. The ones we embrace anew help create multigenerational experiences that supply us with depth, variety and learning — each of which are important pillars to a healthy, happy, meaningful life.

Ron Colone can be reached at ron.colone@gmail.com

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