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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Some Observations About Time On Earth

I was born to 'older' parents.  My father was born in 1902 and my mother in 1912.  As far as I can determine my maternal grandfather was born sometime around 1882.  My ancestry is one generation before that of my age group peers.

I suppose that may have had a great deal to do with the way my childhood unfolded.  But, I've written about those things in earlier postings.  This is not about my own trials and travails but about the course of progress of humanity in my time on this earth.

My father was born in 1902 and my mother in 1912.  Think about that.  My father came into this world in the year before the Wright brothers famous first heavier than air flight.  He passed away in 1992 at age 90.  Imagine all the changes he saw in his lifetime.

In his 90 years he lived from the time man had never flown except in lighter than air craft.  He died after he saw World War I, served in World war II and served in the time of the Korean War though he was never sent to Korea.

He lived through the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, Neil Armstrong's first step of mankind on our moon in 1969.  He watched the TV coverage of the first Gulf War.  He saw so many things his and my children only know as far off events in a boring, history class.

It has made me often wonder about myself.  Would I ever witness such leaps forward for mankind.
From pre heavier than air flight to the explorations of our solar system.  Those changes were so dramatic it seemed nothing would be so weighty in my life time.

I was born at the tail end of 1953.  I was born to "older" parents.  The kids of my age were a whole generation younger than me.  That might seem a small thing because they were still my same age but it was.  I was never completely comfortable with kids of my own age and much more comfortable with their parents.  This lack of "fitting in" had quite a few, long lasting effect on my emotional development but that is a completely different story.

Reviewing, in my mind, all the things my father witnessed, and, with a view my life did not see the same kind of historic events and changes, I have now revised my perspective.  Though the events my father lived through were more popularly dramatic than the events of my life, so far,

At the time I never thought of things as "historic" the same as today's youth will not think of the events of today as "historic".  Historic events are decided by historians living in the future and looking back on our time.

Some of my memories include the assassination of President Kennedy, Neil Armstrong's first human steps on our moon.  The first and second war in Iraq, the attack with destroyed the "twin towers" in NY, the second (and unnecessary) Iraq war,   I saw the war in Afghanistan, which was maybe justified but horribly mismanaged.    I saw the great housing bubble which resulted in the worst depression since the great depression which started in 1929.

Right now things are going on which will be history to my grandchildren and their descendants  Some of those include such things as a more detailed exploration of our own solar system.  Advances in detecting and understanding exra-solar planets.  When I grew up that seemed something our of science fiction.

We are sending robotic explorers to Mars, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn and finding conditions which might allow for life beyond earth.    I have lived from paper and pencil to I-Pads and school kids not even learning to write in cursive.

I lived in a time when advanced science classes did not even allow a square rule to a time when use of a computer is universally accepted.  Even  when I attended school to become a computer programmer no one could even come close to imagining computers as they are today.  What do we fail to envision which will be computers of tomorrow?

Along about the time I was in the fourth grade I discovered Science Fiction in the works of Asaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlien, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Silverberg,  Clifford D. Simak, Andre Norton and a multitude of others.  It changed my personal world.

Because I grew up as a social outcast I relied on my books for my friends.  I think they were much better friends than the people I grew up with and around.  Those people seemed anchored in the present time and location.  My books let me live from pre-history to an a time so far in the future it was not really imaginable.  I lived in the ancient world of the Greeks, Romans, Etruscans and many others.  I experienced history from the perspective of the Bible as well as that of archaeology and a purely scientific look at the past.

To me, books are the most magical of all things.  They are time machines, star ships, transportation to everywhere, every when and all things withing the scope of human imagination.  I developed, not just an appreciation, but a love of the written word.  Not just the English language but all writings from the earliest examples of written information historians have yet discovered.

I've lived through the Trojan War, the settlement of far off planet in unseen stars, times before history was even written down.  I've lived in worlds where magic was a fact of live,  not just humans bur Dwarves, Elves and other mythological creatures were real.

But in the physical, "real" world, I have seen things proceed from a time when cancer was a 100% death sentence to a time where a lot of cancers are, if not curable, at least having treatments slow it way down.

So many things I've lived through I don't even think about which my children, grand children and beyond will go to sleep in class while their teacher drones on in  a monotone about things they feel have no bearing  on their own lives.

I think I am fortunate I have always had a love for the written word, but also, a love for history.  I am just as happy living in Troy, ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire and other time far in our past as I am in today's world.  Maybe more happy.

My first great love was Nefertiti when I saw a photo of her bust in the Encyclopedia Britannica back in the fourth grade.  I've stood with the Greeks at Thermopylae, explored the wilderness which was early America, explored the moon and distant solar systems.

I've seen things which were only fiction in my youth become today's reality. I deeply desire to see what happens tomorrow and the day after.

I think that is my only real regret with mortality.  My own death means little to me.  Everyone dies.  What means the most is all the wonders of the future I will not see.

A lot of people do not see the wonderful time in which we are living.  The advances in medical technology (though opposed by the big pharmaceutical companies which make money only for treating symptoms rather than developing cures); the developments in methods to locate extraterrestrial worlds which might even evolve into finding other worlds where live exists.

Advances in quantum theory which may develop computers of unimaginable power; breakthroughs in physics which may someday lead to an ability to cheat the light speed limit and allow us to eplore and settle far off worlds.

The lifetimes of my parents saw many amazing and historic events.  My own lifetime has seen more.  The lifetime of my children and grandchildren will see wonders which were only things of fiction in my lifetime.

I envy that.

That is my one big regret in a limited lifetime.  I will miss all those things.  I hate it.

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