I am turning 40 years old in a couple of months. There is no more denying the onset of the middle age. I would like to think I am a little wiser for those years, but more important than that I would like to use this post to celebrate how great life really is.
I Walked Twenty Miles to School, Barefoot in the Snow and it was Uphill Both Ways!
When I was a child, I listened to all of those stories grown ups use to tell about how bad it was for them at my age. They were right! Their childhoods were much more difficult. As a child, my grandmother never had electricity or running water. Think about what that means for a moment.
No refrigerators meant that food either had to be canned (actually put in a jar) or eaten immediately. Animals were only slaughtered in the winter when the cold could preserve them for a longer time. My grandmother lived on a farm so there were few stores to buy groceries. Virtually everything was grown or raised on her own farm. Of course, there were no computers, TV or Internet! I could go on and on about the harsh living conditions and back breaking work she endured. Needless to say, her life was considerably more difficult than mine. Grandma Patty always says, “I never wish for those days to come back!”
If You Could Have Seen the Things I Saw
The changes I have personally experienced are equally astonishing.
Music used to scratched on black vinyl.
When I was a child, my parents still had 8-track tapes around the house: I even owned a couple. I am willing to bet that many readers of this blog have no idea what an 8-track tape is. I watched as music shifted from records to cassettes to CDs and then iPods. I have 10,000 songs on my iPod now! 8-track to 10,000 songs in my pocket in 40 years! Amazing times!
My family’s first television was black and white. I believe there were only a couple of channels to watch. As I got older, we had color TVs and the program choices started to explode. In about junior high school, Beta and VHS were competing to become the industry standard. DVDs only proliferated in the last decade.
My first computer was a Sinclair ZX-81. It had 16kb of memory and this was a plug in unit that attached to the back of the computer. To save programs, I had to record them onto audio cassettes. The sound was a squeal just like the older fax machines. The monitor was any TV.
Now the Amazing Part
I am certainly not bragging about how old I am. Getting old actually scares the shit out of me. However, there are not too many days when I am not completely astounded at what the world currently offers.
I can watch US TV programs on demand from my computer in Japan (Email me if you want to learn how). I can cheaply and safely travel around the world. I can make free video calls anywhere on Skype. I can connect with people on the other side of the world through my blogs, and services like Twitter. I can learn about anything with a quick Google search. There are unlimited tutorials and training for anything imaginable. I can do and be anything I choose!
In my twenties, I never really saw the magnitude of the changes taking place all around me. New technologies kept coming so the innovations were are gradual. However, looking back now offers a perspective I never had before.
The Age of the Jet Set Citizen
If you have been reading this blog you probably know that my wife and I have committed to change countries and careers once again. I have the opportunity and freedom to reinvent myself. My grandmother never had any of these chances. Her life was dictated by harsh economic reality; work your ass off or starve.
I can do any type of work I chose from virtually anywhere in the world. I can go back to school. I can learn new skills. I can engage with people of similar interests regardless of where they live in the world. The opportunities are absolutely endless.
You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet
This pace of change isn’t about to slow down. The sequencing of the genome and nanotechnology mean that humans are the first species to take control of their own evolution. Humans are actively enhancing and altering our current evolution. Old age is merely a cell disease where our bodies can’t keep replicating cells efficiently. The disease of old age is going to be greatly slowed or even reversed in my lifetime. It is not science fiction any more. I expect to work productively until more than 80 years old. With healthy living and science backing me up, I will probably live to 120 years old or more. Even 150 years old is not unreasonable.
If you don’t believe that scientists will find ways to slow aging, imagine what you would have thought 20 years ago if you heard that you will be able to make free video calls to anywhere in the world. (I used to pay more than a dollar a minute for calls to Canada!) You will be able to store 10,000 songs on a little box the size of the old music cassettes. You will be able to watch TV and movies on a computer screen that was only monochrome at the time. Commercial space flights begin in the next couple of years!
If you told me I would be living in Japan and my articles would be reaching thousands of people around the world, I would have said that you were crazy! It is crazy! These are crazy, amazing times.