"The Wonder Year project is an invitation to imagine what lies beyond the apparent boundary of 2012, not as a rigidy imposed concept or prediction, but as an adventure." - The Wonder Year
Two days ago, I conceived of a mini-adventure inspired by a book's premise that I'd like to share.
In The Future of Us, teenage protagonists Josh and Emma live in 1996, and find out that Emma's computer can mysteriously access Facebook fifteen years in the future. Facebook doesn't exist in linear time, yet inadvertently or not, they're reading their own future-self Facebook statuses. They begin to piece together a puzzle of their lives as grown-ups.
In 1996, taking the best educated guess I could at the time, I'd be starkly wrong about the ride into 2011 on almost every single front I'd hazard a guess. Rather than 15 years fast-forward, even 10-year-sprees are daunting: I was pretty much the same person with same worldview in 1996 as in 1986 so extrapolation sort of works for that time span. But 2006? That was night-and-day from 1996.
Eight years and exactly one day ago today, I published my first post here at Crossroads Dispatches. (Previous blog lasted a few months.) Could I predict I'd still be writing right here same bat-channel eight years later?
I'm startled myself how skimming (I didn't read it through as it's more suited to YA) The Future of Us got me going on this theme about how we believe we can or ought to predict or shape destiny. Notions such as there is a singular optimum destiny and we must finagle to get there. Or fearsome other destinies we must avoid. It opens up a ball of wax to play with.
I just didn't know what I didn't know back then, and actually couldn't conceive of many of the events and insights that have occurred (and I've left out a lot of juicy, weird parts). Mind and spirit may not be static. Maybe we aren't confined by our 17-year-old beliefs, or even yesterdays'.
"Many times I imagined myself here--at the threshold of the palace. But I always thought I would be here as a conqueror, instead we are the Earth king's personal guests here to serve him tea. Destiny is a funny thing." - unnamed character in Avatar: The Last Airbender
Destiny is a funny thing.
"Emma, I'm not messing with the future. Not as part of a game."
"Then don't call it a game!" she snaps. "Think of it as an award-winning science experiment."
Emma picks up the thin blue vase from her dresser. Earlier this week, it held the dying roses Graham gave her for prom. Emma slowly tips the vase until water begins dribbling onto her white carpet.
"What are you doing?" I ask. But I know the answer. She's making a small change in the present to see how it affects the future. If I grab the vase from her now, it wouldn't matter because that wouldn't have happened before either. - The Future of Us, by Jay Asher and Carolyn Macker
In the book, Emma and Josh started to notice that things they'd decide in the present would ripple into the future each time they hit refresh on Facebook--sometimes affecting the name of their spouse, the town where they reside, who's on their Friends list and who isn't and other factors.
The Invitation and Adventure. Try on this experiment in imaginal science. Less manipulating the future, more an exercise in imagination, at least for me--but play it as you will.
What did you do today that rippled into the future? As Emma notes, "It doesn't have to be huge, but something we weren't going to do before playing this game."
I like the ring of "hindsight is 20/20" so I'm setting my future statuses for the year 2020. Oh, and I'm not necessarily going to stay within the realm of "the feasible."
Add yours in Comments section below if you want to play too. (You can also invent the present-day statuses, if you like.) I'll play for about 10 or 11 days through February 19th--adding my statuses to the Comments. In a few days, I'll add yet another twist to the game inspired from the book, The Future of Us. Here's an example:
Yesterday: For the past year, nearly every day I walk 1 and 1/2 hours in pretty much the southerly direction in the same neighborhood. Today I walked a new northern route (I'd explored pieces of it years ago; today, I went further). And found a biking trail I didn't know about. It gave me a vantage point to see palatial 'star' homes that are often obscured by gates and walls.
In 2020: Jaunt through forests near Mogollon Rim. Built a fire for the evening. I'll travel again at dawn. (The unspoken, implied part is totally comfortable with wilderness survival in winter.) Photo attached with status update: Mongollan Rim and the Verde River.
ART CREDITS: Illustration by Katsuhiro Otomo via darksilenceinsuburbia; Bâtiment (Building) Installation, by Leandro Erlich, grants super-powers to passersby -- scale a building in Paris through March (a vertical mirror reflects a horizontal building facade) via MyModernMet.