Friday, April 11, 2008

The Future: Are We Ready?

I was in my backyard digging a hole to bury a hang glider who flew into our window, when I hit something hard. I looked into the hole and discovered two objects. One was a cylindrical box; the other, a flat silver piece of metal.

The flat metal piece turned out to be the head of my shovel, which must have broken off while I was digging. I put the two objects aside and returned to my work. It slowed me down considerably having to just beat the ground with the handle. However, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the hang glider came to after a couple of hours and walked off. So I ended up not having to finish digging the hole.

I was about to start filling the hole back in, when I realized that it might be nice to have an extra foxhole around, just in case. I put the handle down and examined the strange, cylindrical box. It appeared to be some sort of time capsule. It looked old and had the words “time capsule” written on the side—a clue, no doubt. After several minutes of struggling with the lid, I attempted to pull it off rather than push it harder into the box. It came off immediately. I was shocked by what happened next.

When the lid came off, I heard “you have opened the secret time capsule” in a voice that could only be described as sounding like the wind. It was me that said it, in my whispery ghost voice. I had attempted that voice many times before, but had never pulled it off quite so well as this time. And that shocked me.

My eye caught hold of a single sheet of paper lying facedown in the box. It wasn’t folded, so I wasted little time trying to unfold it. Maybe only a couple of minutes. It looked like a page torn out of a diary. In big block letters, it was entitled The Future: Are We Ready? I read it aloud. The page was short, but still too long to read in my whispery ghost voice (although that would have been a great effect).

The year is 1994. The smell is of the ocean. None of us realize that in 14 short years, the oceans will be replaced by ocean-smelling-like robots. We will dip our robot toes into the ocean and an electromagnetic signal will tell our robot brains that it feels cold and wet. “That is water,” we will say with our internet voice-over mouths. A robotic seagull will then fly over and drop a computer chip on our shoulders. “Oh great! Our new shirts (holographs) are ruined.” We put a postcard into the mailbox, which is actually a wireless scanner that e-mails the picture to our friends Tom and Stacey. We tell each other (IR beam info out of our eyes to the others’ brains) that we will always remember this time we had together at the ocean. We put our leash back on our robotic dog/microwave oven and walk to our cars and drive/digitally transport ourselves back home.

In fourteen years! That would be this year—2008. It did sound eerily similar to our world today—or at least, what our world could be like in a couple of "big" months. But something was troubling me. The author used certain words that someone from 1994 could never have understood or predicted—like Internet, wireless, and seagull. How could someone from the past have known what our life would be like or would soon be like in 2008? My first thought, of course, was that the person must have been an alien that sees all time in the present and got lost here for awhile until getting zapped back up to his ship (or her ship—but I think we all know “how things are” on other planets). But then I looked closer at the page. In the top corner was written “Planet: Earth.” It was an earthling all right. That’s exactly how one of us would have written that.

At that moment, I got distracted. I noticed an old newspaper in the bottom of the box. I started to call out Eureka, but I thought better of it and just yelled Jackpot. I quickly ran to the phone book to call a bookie (FYI—it’s pretty hard to find a bookie in the phone book. Turns out that a bookkeeper is an accountant, and the other places are all libraries). However, I found a real bookie’s number on-line. I placed a bunch of bets on the scores of some baseball games. But I think this scheme would have worked better if the sports page had been from the future instead of 1994. One of the teams I bet $1,000 on doesn’t even exist anymore. All in all, though, I lost quite a bit of money.

I had thought that digging that hole would solve all of my problems, but all it did was burden me with more questions. Who am I? Why am I here? Whose shovel is this? Hey, isn’t my house blue, like that one over there across the street?

Perhaps, it is better to wait for the future to provide us these answers—at a time when we, and the future, are ready (last part read in a whispery ghost voice).


Heather said...

Very interrsting! I never think of things in this way. Thanks for the insight.

Chad and Amy said...

Watch "Heavenly Father's Plan" and I bet you'll get some answers.

ronandlindahatfield said...

Hey! I made the first comment and now I check and it isn't here!! I must not of pushed the publish button. Too bad, cuz I had some very insighful comments. It is still a good story you have, even without my "insights".