I remember when I was 6 years-old I would sit under a tree in my grandma’s front yard wondering what the world would be like when I got older. I’ll turn 56 on Sunday, and while that doesn’t even qualify as middle age here in Florida, it certainly qualifies as older than the 6 year-old sitting under that tree contemplating the future.
To be honest I really don’t remember exactly what I imagined the world would be like in 50 years, but I can promise you it wasn’t this.
First of all, I was six so I probably didn’t even know that people could even live 56 years and I certainly couldn’t have known about the nasty little surprises life had in store for me like cancer, taxes or the Dr. Phil Show. No child should have to deal with that kind of reality.
I was a semi-innocent first grader, for goodness sake, I believed life would be filled with fighter jets, pirates and ice cream ... O ... I got that part right but that was about it.
I really believed we would be living in a Jetson’s kind of world by now. I want Rosie, the robot maid, a space car and a machine that produces a warm meal in seconds with the push of a button…OK, we’ve got that last one, but I really wanted the space car!
I figured there would be colonies on Mars, no school, ever, and cootie-free girls in the future. I foresaw a time when it was always summer, a swimming hole with a rope swing on every block and mosquitos had lost their taste for me.
From my vantage point under Grandma’s tree I could see myself all grown up, sporting a deputy badge and two six-shooters conquering evil once and for all. In gratitude I was sure my Mom would let me stay up after bedtime. It was freakin’ glorious, man!
Now, as I look back over the last 50 years, nothing I imagined was any more miraculous or unlikely than what actually happened. Don’t think so, I’ve got four words for you, “Blazing Saddles On Demand.” I rest my case.
Since my time in Grandma’s front yard, men landed on the moon (despite what my wife might tell you), scientists drive remote control cars on Mars and Dan Quayle was Vice President! I could never have dreamed up things like that!
When my wife was in Italy last year I could video chat with her for free everyday ... if she had been willing to take my calls ... but it’s amazing that I could have.
Six months of NFL every year, central heat and air, micro-brews and Hooters. The Beatles, a ’69 Shelby Cobra, George Carlin and the F-14 Tomcat ... yup at times things have been truly miraculous!
The second season of The Duck Dynasty, Glen Beck’s career, my marriage, the “69 Mets, and the Yugo. Tom Cruise’s sanity, Bob Saget’s celebrity, a lizard selling insurance and Joe Biden becoming Vice Preside ... all more unlikely than my wildest six year-old daydream.
As I contemplate my 56th birthday and look back on the how the world has changed since I became aware of it, I can’t help but marvel at how much things have changed and how I didn’t see any of it coming while sitting under Grandma’s tree.
I’m 50 years older now and when I daydream under a tree these days, I normally fall asleep. I didn’t see that happening either.
These days I’m the grandpa and I’ve seen my grandson lying on the trampoline in my backyard watching the clouds drift by. I’ve got to believe that he’s thinking about what the world might have in store for him.
I wonder what he thinks about; he was born into a world that has proven to be amazing and unpredictable, but I hope he doesn’t know that yet. I hope he lives a long full life and in 50 years looks back in wonder at his once and future life.
Rick Seley is an award-winning columnist.