Perspective

Mourning a Lost Future

When you’ve lived more than a half century, you find that you’ve attended many funerals along the way. Over that time I’ve listened to many eulogies and shed many tears over the death of friends and family. Out of all of those eulogies, one in particular has stuck with me.

Years ago I went to a memorial service a coworker held for his wife. After a long illness, his wife finally succumbed to her disease. I will never forget the eulogy he delivered for the woman he dearly loved and missed. He said that he grieved the loss of her, particularly their future as a couple. He explained how he would miss her companionship and all the future time together that will never be. He shared about the good times they had together and how there would be no more days spent with her. He brought the whole room to tears.

But then he pivoted his remarks to point us to the past and what it held for all of us. “It’s hard to look back and be grateful for what we did have; to be content with the years we had together,” he said. “I wanted more time together; so much more time. I will always want more, but I am so grateful for what we did have and forever grateful for that.”

These are the words that have stuck with me. It seems I always want more out of life, but can I be content with what I have instead of looking at what I don’t have and what the future might bring? Can I be content with this moment — content with making the most of this moment; content with this day and what it brings? It seems natural to want more out of life, but perhaps appreciating what we have already is enough. It is something I’m still working on years later.

Technology · The Last Half Century · The Next Half Century

Future Self Meets Past Self

I was thinking the other day about what it would be like if my future self visited me when I was in my twenties back in the 1980s. I imagined a conversation something like this:

“Hey, I’m your future self from the year 2020.”

“Whoa, dude! What’s up?” (Apologies to Bill and Ted and their “Excellent Adventure.”)

“Do you want to know how your life turns out?”

“Not really. That’s too scary. How about you tell me something else.”

“Okay. In the future we have smart phones.”

What are you talking about? How can a phone get smart?” My 1980s clueless, land line phone self asks.

“It’s a touchscreen phone that lets you use apps, take pictures, text and surf the Internet.”

“You can surf with your phone in the future? Wow, that must be a pretty big phone.”

“No. You surf the Internet with it.”

“What’s the Internet?”

“Well it’s this global network that let’s you connect with other people around the world.”

“Oh, like making a phone call?”

“Well, you can still do that, but you can also use social media.”

“Social media? In the future the government takes over the media?”

“No, it’s nothing like that. You use online platforms like Facebook to communicate.”

“Facebook? Why would you use a book instead of a phone to talk to people?”

“No, its online social media.”

“The future sounds very strange,” my 1980s self remarks.

“Maybe it’s better if I just leave and wait for you to catch up with me in a few decades. It might be easier to learn this stuff as you go.”

“Yeah, it sounds very complicated. Maybe the world will all make more sense in a few decades.”

“Well…” my future self hesitates.

“Well what?” My past self says with concern.

“Yeah sure, everything will make a lot more sense in a few decades,” my future self responds with a fake smile.

“Well, that’s good to hear,” my 1980s self says. “Things are pretty confusing now. I’m still trying to figure out how to record TV shows with my VCR.”

“Good luck with that,” my future self remarks before he leaves. “See you later, much later.”

“Later dude!” My past self replies as he plays an air guitar.