I find imagining the future difficult. The mind reels with possibilities: climate change, global-nuclear war, the eradication of the bees, a nonviolent message received from outer space, unheard of diseases unleashed from the jungles of Africa or the Amazon, peak oil, clones, fundamentalist revivals, race wars, alien attacks, food shortages, the violent revolt of the wage slaves, messiahs, media whores, stray asteroids, scientifically engendered black holes, zombies, multidimensional visitors, the rise of the machine, genderless children, pets that can talk, casual space travel, downloadable talents, the rediscovery of wizardry, the Kraken, virtual realities, the return of the gods, bioengineered immortality, the descent of the nation-state, water wars, microchips implanted by corporate overlords, anarchy in the U.K.
Understanding the present isn’t much better. We learn narratives from the media — terrorism, Trump, and trade, with an ever-increasing side of racial tension — and we ignore whatever doesn’t belong in the narrative. We imbue ourselves in the present dynamic, find our place, our space, and our pace in the fluidity of local time, connecting ourselves to the world as best we can but always and forever remaining local to our moment and blocked from a global sense of truth.
And the past is no treat either, with revisionism and rediscovered records changing what we thought we knew. Diminishing power structures reveal more detail or more shades of perspective on whatever historic event catches our attention: Indians becoming Native Americans becoming indigenous people, revelations of homosexuality and transgenderism all throughout history, post-colonial truths critiquing the received mythologies of empire after empire, the continued disclosure of millennias of male-dominated incompetence, minor skirmishes and hitherto unknown strategic blunders attaining their rightful places in the narratives of long-ago.
There’s no singular place on which to focus, no foundation on which to build: the future is a mystery, the present is chaotic, and the past is a mythologized power play. Where does one turn for hope?
I mow my lawn. I listen to the birds sing. I see my neighbors pack into their cars and drive off for a day of errands, and I smile and wave as they pass me by.