I’ll be turning 40 years old in two weeks. I guess the days drag slowly but the years go fast. I sometimes lose track of time during the day to day grind. I’ve been a bit more nostalgic than usual lately. Been listening more to the music I liked back in college and high school. While I don’t buy into the whole ‘older music is better than new’, I do like a lot of the things that came out in the late 90s and early 2000s. But, then again those years were real significant to me. It was when I was growing into the man I would eventually become. In those years, I had my first dates, my first kiss, travelled to Mexico for a couple weeks, actually had good physical health, could stay up all night and still do a full day of classes with little more than a couple Pop Tarts and a cup of coffee.
It seems the only true constant in life is change. I risk sounding like an old man when I say I’m amazed at all the changes I’ve seen just in my lifetime. I’m old enough I remember the last few years of the Cold War. Even as a nine year old growing up in rural Nebraska, I knew that the Berlin Wall coming down was significant. I was in fourth grade when my elementary school got a bunch of Apple II GS computers. I felt like I joined the future right then and there. Now those are ancient relics compared to what we have now. I may sometimes give my elders a hard time for not being comfortable with computers, but my nephews would give me the exact same hard time for being uncomfortable with VR programs and 3D printers. My thirteen year old nephew set up a VR flying program for my father, a licensed pilot and former Air Force pilot. I don’t know how to do this. Maybe I could after watching a few tutorials on youtube, but not until then.
Just in my forty years, I’ve seen computers go from clunky desk tops to fit in your coat pocket supercomputers that happen to make phone calls. I’ve seen the electric car become reliable. I’ve seen the internet become as much as a game changer as the printing press and steam engine in previous eras. Saw 9/11 and the subsequent wars. Saw China become a world power. Saw the European Union and Brexit both. Saw the rise of Populist politics on all sides in many countries. I’m seeing the Covid 19 pandemic play out in real time. Saw the rise of robotics and the beginnings of AI. Saw the Human Genome Project get completed. Saw the rise of social media and tech giants like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc. Saw Apple’s renaissance. Saw the decline of video rental stores. I’m witnessing the decline of traditional retail (and many of my previous jobs were in retail). I’m seeing the beginning of driverless cars (I imagine our grandkids will find that term as quaint as ‘horseless carriage’ was in the early 1900s). Heck I’m even seeing researchers trying to slow down the aging process. And these are just the things that are in the headlines everyday.
I don’t know if I have another forty years left in this life, but it has been an exciting ride so far. I would love to make it to 2060, if for no other reason than to just see what else plays out. We do live in troubling times, with the pandemic and protests turning violent on an almost daily basis. I remain hopeful that these are the birth pains of a changed for the better civilization that makes more efforts to not repeat the wrongs of past eras. Granted, some days it isn’t easy.