From 14 Hours in the Future: A Reminder

Wonder is important.

I learned on the news yesterday, though I already had my suspicions, that my area had not had a fully sunny day in over 30 days. That nicely covered the entire month of May. Sure, the sun had poked through here and there, but never for any great amount of time. Rain, rain, clouds, more rain.

This is in stark comparison to last year, when for the entire stretch of spring and summer, we suffered massive drought. Nature has its way of balancing things out, whether we like it or not.

A solid month of rain is kind of a depressing thing. Maybe if I lived in Seattle, I’d be used to it, but I don’t. The world can be a pretty dreary place when theres no sunlight to be had, and the goings-on of the rest of the world don’t give much reason to cheer up any. SARS, the next big thing of the disease world, is running rampant in China, they tell us. Now it’s even made it into our northern neighbor, putting it right on our doorstep, more or less.

Better run in terror, I guess. Good thing we all have gas masks already in preparation for our terror alerts, right? I know my Memorial Day weekend was greatly improved by being told that I could be blown up or infected or vaporized by space lasers at any given second. Plus, the several million people who are too afraid to fly but still feel like going places flooded onto the nation’s highways, meaning that we’d probably all be sitting ducks in traffic anyway.

But the holiday was a good break from work. Wait, did I say work? That would only be for the people with jobs. Not like the massive amount of the unemployed out there. Guess that economy still hasn’t clawed its way back out of recession, and now that the whole war thing is over (did you see all the WMDs we found? Wait what?), people might start to notice that again. But don’t worry; the government is working hard to get taxes back to the people who need it most.

No, not the people who make less than $25,000 a year. Those people are doing just fine. No, I’m talking about the people with all those stock dividends; you know, the poor investors on Wall Street. Anyway, the world certainly seems to be in the crap-hole right now.

And yet, despite what I’ve already written, it’s not. Sure, writing about how terrible things are is easy, and bashing our president is kind of fun, but I have a point in all of this. The problem is not with the world. The problem is with us. I feel that we as a species have forgotten what is really important out there.

Have you watched the rain? I mean, really watched it? It’s fascinating. And most people wouldn’t willingly go stand in the rain for anything. You should try it sometime. It’s pretty damn refreshing. And on those sunny days, do you go outside and actually try and enjoy them? I don’t count mowing your lawn or taking a drive to the local Wal-Mart as enjoying a nice day, so that wont fly.

I just mean going out, taking a walk with no particular destination in mind, and seeing what there is to see. People-watching, bird-watching, insect-watching: whatever works for you. Try to actually notice the world around you. The real world, not the world the media tells you about.

We, as the great and wise species of man, have forgotten how to be fascinated. We have forgotten what it is to dream, to fantasize. We have Hollywood now to do the dreaming for us, to present us fascination in easily digestible two-hour chunks. The only thing most people seem to get fascinated by these days isn’t that there are strange things lurking in the bottom of the ocean that we havent discovered yet, but instead that there’ll be a power-hour block of Friends on tonight.

I heard a story the other day about how, when a classroom full of children was asked if they wanted to go into space when they were older, only a handful raised their hands. And of those, when asked if thnot a single one did.

What happened? What killed all of our dreams? Was it half a century of cold war? Is it the constant threats and warnings that surround us? Or is it simple, plodding bureaucracy and greed that have taught people the only way to get anywhere in life is to stick with what the system gives you, and if you happen to be smart enough, cheat a little and don’t get caught?

But wait, you say, I thought you said your point is that the world isn’t a horrible place? True, indeed I did. I say this because there are still those out there willing to give it a shot, to try and re-inspire the world. Remember the Lysistrata Project? Or check out the X-Prize sometime.

So for every hundred thousand people who are sitting at a desk somewhere happily voting on whether to call their department The Charge-Backers or the The Charge-Eliminators, know that there is at least one person out there still trying to move our future forward. That, at least, is something to smile about.

And, if you really think you’ve got it in you, maybe you can be one of those people, too.

Seriously.

Article © 2003 by Joel Haddock