We Live in Amazing Times!

oldfarm 300x232 We Live in Amazing Times!

The Good Old Days (image by Powerhouse Museum)

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.

8 track 237x300 We Live in Amazing Times!

8-Track Tape (image by felixtcat)

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!

Television

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.

zx81 150x150 We Live in Amazing Times!

My First Computer (image by Rob Berkers)

Computers
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.

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

18 Responses to We Live in Amazing Times!

  1. Alan says:

    Not sure if that last comment went through or not…

    Nice reflection, John!

    As much as I look forward to the future (I wouldn’t be embracing LD / technology as much if I didn’t), I miss certain aspects of my past. Like sitting on my grandfather’s lap and asking him about his childhood. Like my DiscMan (never owned an 8-track hehe). Like watching Gilligan’s Island.

    Who knows where our lives are headed, but given the rate that things are moving, I imagine the next few decades to be quite a ride :)
    .-= Alan´s last blog ..2009 Quarter 3 Update =-.

  2. Awesome positive look back and outlook. Life is amazing to experience no matter what age. Great article and hope to continue reading more of your greatness after you are over the hill….just playing….

    Dave
    LifeExcursion

  3. Colin Wright says:

    Oh man, I’m glad someone else is as enthused about the march of technology as much as I am! I tell people that I’m fully prepared to live forever, become a cyborg, take nanobot pills, etc etc etc and they tend to look at me like I’m a crazy person.

    I’m 24 and I can already appreciate the dramatic changes that have occurred in my lifetime. The pace seems painfully slow sometimes, but I don’t think there’s anything that can really stop humanity from achieving something if we set our sights on it.

    As I find myself saying more often than I should probably admit: ‘It’s an exciting time to be alive!’
    .-= Colin Wright´s last blog ..You’ll Never Be Philosophically Fulfilled (and That’s Okay) =-.

  4. Gordie Rogers says:

    People will be able to live forever by having their “brains” uploaded on computer in future. However, only the elite will be allowed to do this.

    I think it’s so amazing how in forty years, things have changed so much. It seems the change is happening exponentially as technology cna create more advanced technology quicker.

  5. Hey John, great post my man! Hope you have a fantastic 40th (although I guess we still have a while to wait), but I really dig your reflections and the life philosophy you’ve gained so far. I sit around contemplating these things sometime too—it’s incredible the “halflife” that technology has, improving—and shrinking—at a compound rate.

    I can’t wait until I get to learn kung fu and how to pilot helicopters by plugging into the Matrix. :)
    .-= Cody McKibben´s last blog ..My Secret Recipe for 100% Guaranteed Happiness =-.

  6. Loved this post. I’m 44, so I had many of the same experiences. It’s mindblowing to think about it sometimes.
    .-= Sharon Hurley Hall´s last blog ..New Writer On Get Paid To Write Online =-.

  7. Nate says:

    Hey I’ve heard that 40 is the new 20, so you are all set!

    Great post, even though I’m much younger than you (not to rub it in) I am still amazed by how far things have come in my life. It’s actually kind of scary to me how much technology is evolving. The opportunities and innovations are limitless.

  8. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nate Damm. Nate Damm said: We live in amazing times! > http://bit.ly/fhd7B > cool post from @JetSetCitizen [...]

  9. Jonathan says:

    John, great post and a good reminder. I always remember how different things have changed from just when I was in junior high, about 10 years ago. Cell phones were clunky and were in the middle of their explosion into everyday use for everyone. I remember having to use AOL for the internet and that annoying modem beeping to log on. It’s crazy how much things have changed in such little time. I’m looking forward to what innovation will bring in the coming 10 years, just as long as it’s not SkyNet from Terminator (nervous chuckle). Have a great birthday.

  10. Walter says:

    We truly are living in amazing times. but I’m afraid though of the consequences we might have in the futures to come. :-)
    .-= Walter´s last blog ..Crippling habits people embrace =-.

  11. Richard says:

    Don’t forget mobile phones! There was a time when people who wanted to get hold of you had to actually try and predict where you would be during the day and call the landline near you, hoping you would be there. (shivers)
    .-= Richard´s last blog ..Five Weeks and a Phone Call =-.

  12. John says:

    @alan Discman? You had it great! :-)

    @nate Unfortunately 40 is still the old 40. My body is not 20 anymore, but my mind is.

    @Jonathan and @Richard How could I forget cell phones? Yes, I remember payphones everywhere. Don’t see too many of those anymore.

    @Walter Yes, we have some messes to clean up to. The march of technology isn’t always positive.
    .-= John´s last blog ..We Live in Amazing Times! =-.

  13. Carmen says:

    This was a fun post, John. I am 43. I have vivid memories of the day my mother came home from work with the first calculator she had in her office. It was about 12×12 inches and did addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. We all gathered around the dining room table to see how it worked. My mother and grandmother laughed that it was one of the most ridiculous things ever invented. “Why spend money on this thing when you can easily do math in your head?” they said. It was the same when the microwave and PC came out. Every time they thought the inventions were ridiculous. Guess they weren’t good predictors of how things would go!
    .-= Carmen´s last blog ..What Does it Take to Become a Long Term Independent Traveling Nomad? NuNomad Round Table Discussion Featuring JetSetCitizen, FreePursuits, Under30CEO, Thrilling Heroics, and NuNomad =-.

  14. John! Totally awesome post!

    I’m barely 23 and in my short life I’ve already seen so much change. I remember those massive box tv’s with bad resolution, and now everyone uses plasma tv’s.

    I remember the first computer I had was a dos based pentium computer, now an iPhone has a hundred times the processing power of that thing.

    My grandfather had two cycle for two hours to get a pound of butter (in the times around the second WW) and we can just drive to the store to get it.

    I think there are things that change for the good, but I’m afraid if we keep up this accelerating things are not going to end up so pleasantly.

    Thanks for writing so personally :)
    Have an awesome week!
    .-= Diggy -Upgradereality.com´s last blog ..How to Resist the Temptation of Junk Food =-.

  15. James NomadRip says:

    Good to know I’m not the only one turning 40 in a few months. If you start a support group, let me know :-D
    .-= James NomadRip´s last blog ..NomadRip: @darthvader Those are definitely no Jango clones… =-.

  16. Shane says:

    Excellent post! Couldn’t agree more, by the way!
    My grandparents experienced the second world war, fled their country (on my mother’s side) had to live with the threat of religious terrorism (on my father’s side, northern Ireland) and did not have nearly the opportunities or crazy luxury that I am completely accustomed to.

    These are indeed crazy times. I make sure to stop and realize how incredibly fortunate I am every once in a while. You can tell that we are well off, because our problems are totally luxurious ones (“bad hair day” as opposed to “hungry and nothing to eat”, “not making as much money as I would like” as opposed to “living in a war-torn country” etc.).

    Once again: Great post! Thanks for this.
    .-= Shane´s last blog ..Procrastination, Part 2 – One Simple Method Every Procrastinator Should Try =-.

  17. John says:

    @Shane Thanks for the comment Shane. Well put!
    “our problems are totally luxurious ones (”bad hair day” as opposed to “hungry and nothing to eat”, “not making as much money as I would like” as opposed to “living in a war-torn country” etc.”

    We have it very good now! It is too bad that there are so many whiners who want more.

  18. Nick says:

    Inside one life span we’ve gone from knowing our neighbours to connecting around the world. Compare our grandparents’ hardships with our children’s unlimited potential. Limited only by their imagination, not their geography.

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