From John Steinbeck in East of Eden: “There’s no rot on this clean new hundred years.”
What’s in the future? Uncertainty. Hope. Despair. Innovation. Hardships. Triumph. Sickness. Life.
I have experienced the always moving and impending hands of time turn over into a new century – and that amazes me. Not everyone gets the chance to experience that. Maybe a handful of billions, but not the entirety of the billions.
Anyway, I was only 7, and was more obsessed with the Backstreet Boys’ Millennium album being released than the destruction of our world because of Y2K. I was more concerned with the drama of my Barbies and the trouble D.W. was causing Arthur than who was president of the country. Even at 22, I still just now had to check and see who it was primarily because I knew Bill Clinton could not have been president for 10 years.
It didn’t really feel like a fresh start to me, because when you’re 7 and are part of a good family, school system and okay town what do you need a fresh start from? I do remember that writing “2000” instead of *199X* on papers at school was strange. Although probably not as strange as it was for older generations of people, who had been writing the date for more than 3 or so years.
It’s comforting to think of an event, a date, a certain point in our lives as a “fresh start” when things become overwhelmingly messy, or when we get restless and need something new. What has this fresh start brought for you?
The thought of looking ahead at a new century is a little more light than looking back on the last 15 years of one, or those that have preceded it. When John Steinbeck talks about the beginning of the 1900s, it amuses me. Not in a cynical way, but in a retrospective, what-would-it-have-been-like-to-not-know-about The Great Depression, World War II, Watergate, and other pivotal moments in the nation’s and world’s history kind of way. To see a fresh piece of paper ahead waiting to be written on must have been thrilling, as well as a little terrifying (because of its oblivion characteristics).
For this reason I wish I had been older when the 1900s rounded its last corner before the 21st century, to look at my life and wonder what the next 100 years would bring (or 80 or 90). Although at 7, I probably had a more optimistic outlook than I would have had as a teenager or adult.
I feel like the world has gotten messier as we proceed further and further away from the most recent turn of the century. But again, my perspective is not going to be like yours; and it would be different if I was born earlier. Or maybe it wouldn’t be. Would the same event have transpired? Would I still be in the same place as I am now? A better place, a worse place?
I guess I should turn back to Candide for trying to get through this mental struggle, and not dwell on the way events have transpired, or what that means for the rest of my time in the Universe. Rather, I’ll keep working in my garden, sowing, growing and harvesting the fruits of my labor and keep moving forward towards the future.