Friday, July 25, 2008

Into the Future

In response to my cousin Rik’s son Forest going off to college in a few weeks, I pulled out my copy of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran and looked for some inspirational passages. In the chapter on children, I found an interesting thought: “You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”

Somehow the quote took me by surprise. I certainly don’t remember it. All my life I have heard people talk about the “good old days” and why kids today should be more like the speaker’s generation use to be.

After skimming through The Prophet I had to return a book that was overdue, but still within the three day grace period. The library was closed, but it has a book drop. There had been a sign warning that overdue books put in the slot would not be given the three day grace period. In the sign’s place was a new one: “24/7 Automatic Book Drop.” I pressed a button. A hatch opened and light beams raced across the surface. Good. Bad. Ackk. Am I going to do this right? My brain flicked to all sorts of thoughts as I tried to read the directions. I got warnings a couple of times. All I knew was that I put two books through the hatch and a receipt with two sets of numbers came out of the machine. As I went to my car, I watched a little girl of about eight skip to the book drop and return her books. No problem. I got home and accessed my library account on the computer. Both books were credited to my account and no fine for the slightly overdue one, just like would have happened if I had returned it when the library was open. Isn’t technology wonderful!!!

In the world that Forest and the little girl will live in, technology will have totally taken over most mundane tasks. In the future, a lot of things will be different. Some of the things we can anticipate. Others will catch us totally by surprise. I, for one, want to start orienting my thinking toward the future.

Kindness, honesty, compassion, and other values will hopefully never be obsolete. One of my favorite lines from a current song is: “Everything will change, but love remains the same.” Best wishes to Forest.

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