A Final Thought: Maybe the future isn't so scary


By Mitch Allen

Last week, I made the mistake of asking a good friend who knows me well if he could suggest any New Year’s resolutions for me, something other than achieving the recommended daily allowance of fiber in my diet, which—at 38 grams a day—is going to require eating enough carrots to turn my skin orange.

“Sure,” he replied, far too quickly. “Stop writing about dead people.”

I think my jaw dropped. “Uh, say what?”

“Most of your columns are about people you’ve lost—your parents, grandparents, your genealogy. You know, the past. It’s time to look forward to the future. No one cares about your dead relatives. Just sayin’.”

I was stunned, hurt, shocked, angry. “Well, I can’t write about you then, because from this day forward you are dead to me.”

“That’s okay,” he said. “Knowing your affinity for the recently departed, you’ll probably like me even better.”

Once I recovered from his verbal abuse, I started thinking; maybe he was right. I do tend to live in the past, but that’s only because I don’t feel qualified to write about the present, let alone the future, what with AI, driverless cars, Alexa and Siri mouthing off at me all the time, robot vacuum cleaners, drones, Amazon boxes multiplying like rabbits throughout the neighborhood, the warming oceans, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Instant Pots, the f-word not being a curse word anymore (who effing decided that?), Labrador Retrievers walking the aisles of Giant Eagle, Brexit, Russia, China, North Korea, too much screen time, frenemies, 5G, almond milk, a new Mary Poppins, gene editing, the Browns almost having a .500 season, YouTube stars, the disappearing middle class, augmented reality, meat grown in labs, SpaceX. Yesterday I even read about a vending machine that bakes fresh bread and a toilet that responds to voice commands. I mean, a toilet has one job, right? Why does it need mood lighting?

The future absolutely is scary, unknown, unpredictable.

“Yeah,” my friend says. “The future is scary, just like it was in 1066, 1492, 1776, 1861, 1929, 1941, 1969, 1999 and 2001. That’s just how life is. You need to stop hanging out in graveyards, man. Throw away the rearview mirror and look toward the horizon. It’s beautiful out there. It’s different, that’s for sure, but it’s beautiful.”

Hmm, could he be right? I mean, when my grandmother saw her first automobile she thought it was a monster and hid her head in a haystack, yet she later tamed the beast and learned to drive. And my mother was horrified when my brother and I started wearing our hair long in the 1970s, yet she later embraced the fad and even gave us hair care advice. I myself am no longer dismayed by body piercings and tattoos. I have accepted the fact that young people have always done wacky things. Today they’re eating Tide pods; in the 1930s they were swallowing live goldfish.

Ah, good times.

“You’re doing it again.”

“Doing what?”

“Digging up dead people, talking about the past. Let’s discuss someone who’s in the here and now.”

“Who? I mean, no one wants to read more about Donald Trump, AOC, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, or Kim Jong-un.”

“How about somebody close to you?”

“Well, yesterday my daughter texted me a note from my grandson’s preschool showing that he went all day without wetting his big boy underwear. He went potty at 9:30, 11:15, 12:00, 12:45—napped from 1:00 to 3:00—then went potty again at 3:05. It was kind of a big deal.”

“That’s it!” my friend declared. “You did it! Family, future, hope, dreams, progress, even the little things. That’s what it’s all about!”

Okay, I think I get it. Maybe the future isn’t so scary. If anyone can figure out how to solve the world’s problems, my grandkids can, especially now that they can go all day without wetting their pants, which is more than I can say for myself. Who knows...maybe they’ll even colonize Mars or experience flying cars, teleportation, world peace, and a decent gluten-free bread.

As for me, when I encounter my first talking toilet, I’ll probably hide my head in a haystack.


Categories: Smart Living