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Happy New Year! The future is just over the horizon

Time is merely a construct to aid cataloging significant events. As a kid, time began when I was about 12-years old. That was the year we built the big house.

As I look back through my anthology of stories from that era, building the house was not significant because it meant heating with oil (no more splitting and stacking wood for the stove) or ending the practice of heating kettles of water for the wash tub (hot water poured from a faucet to fill a real bathtub).

Middle Creek 1166 HDR

No sir, what made the year memorable was that was the year my sister was born. My siblings and I did not even know Mom was pregnant; she was pretty good at keeping secrets. It would be a few more years before I found out how it happened. Mom and Dad went to the county seat one morning before breakfast and came home that night with a baby.

Two points about one’s increasing chronological seniority that accrual of years which exposes one to ever more examples of significant events. When I graduated from high school, there was a war in some place called Vietnam. I don’t recall any discussion during my school years in rural Maine of what would become my After-Senior class trip to the war zone.

The good news is if one survives the several attempts by violent forces to shorten one’s shelf life, one is exposed to stuff by the time he is 60 he didn’t know existed when he was a teenager – because mostly they didn’t. I was nearly 40 when I owned my first computer, though for a few years prior I had hints of the machines’ growing power as I worked with taxpayer-purchased machine in my U.S. Navy work. I’ve always been an early adopter of technological wonderment.

I drove a car a couple of years ago that could keep me between the lines and stop before it ran into a stopped truck, all while I just sat there. One day soon, a driver will get behind the steering wheel of the latest model, tap an address some 500 miles away into the GPS screen, and sit back with a good book. Though I’m inclined to rule that last part a shame; we already miss too much of the scenery whilst traveling between the solid lines on a U.S. Interstate highway.

In the early years of my first half-century, a common joke among folks whose anatomy was wearing out was how nice it would be to just order new parts from Sears or AutoZone. Fifteen years later, we are getting close. A friend has a new spine; it is made of titanium and does not bend well, but it’s better than what he’d worn out.

I know three people with combinations of new hips and knees. At least one movie star, several hundred soldiers and sailors and a dozen or so Olympians are running around, literally, on manufactured legs. Replacement hearts and related plumbing are common.

My best friend is about to get a new shoulder, maybe two.

At this rate, in a few months we will remove a failing brain, download its contents to a thumb drive and install the data into an AI module installed in place of the original brain. OK, maybe more than a few months, but it is another thing that does not look as impossible as it did when I made my appearance on this whirling glob of space rocks on which we live.

I am a little unhappy that the cosmos appear not to favor – yet – my being around to see it, but if experience is educational there are advances just over the technological horizon that no one now living has even considered.

I wonder what will be 2023’s most significant event or invention. In honor of the New Year, please leave a comment with your prediction. And thanks for mentally wandering with me in 2022.

John Messeder is a freelance reporter and photographer who resides in Cumberland Township. He may be contacted at john@johnmesseder.com

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