Shepherds who slay dragons (hiccupingwalrus) wrote,
Shepherds who slay dragons

My letter to 50,2000 AD

You can sumbit your own letter to the time capsule here.


We have a lot of hopes for you guys, but don’t take it too personally. By now, if we haven’t gone all Luddite or blown ourselves up or opened this early, technology will have effected* our evolution pretty heavily. See, in my time human knowledge has doubled every 18 years since about when my great-grandparents were born. The first human probe passed out of our sun’s magnetic field when I was 21, thorium is replacing uranium as the power source of the future, and we’ve finally built a solid neuro-interface computer that can translate your thoughts to text in real time. If you managed to follow the pictographs in this time capsule and read what’s on these discs you probably know all about that.

I wanted to tell you a very quick story. When I was growing up, I had a lot of people telling me that I could do anything I put my mind to, that there was all the time in the world to become a doctor, write the great American novel, save the world and explore the cosmos. I believed it, and when I was twelve I assumed that by 25 I would have done at least half of those things and be well on the way to the rest of them. I’m 23 now, and I’ve made a lot of friends, done some meditating and taken a lot of bike rides, but so far I haven’t even saved one tenth of the world, let alone the whole thing. I used to look back all regretfully, think about everything I hadn’t accomplished and wish I could have another chance.

Right now you’re reading a lot of people’s messages from the first minutes of the third millennium, and I bet most of them have pretty high expectations for your time. Given the way our progress has accelerated I bet most people are predicting that by the 521st century we’ll be more or less like gods (unless we destroy ourselves, of course, but then you couldn’t be reading this). I really hope you’ve found ways to make life a lot better for yourselves. The effects of global warming should be wearing off by now. Maybe you’ve figured out faster than light travel or cured aging and disease, but please don’t feel bad if you haven’t. See, I realized around 20 that at 30 I’m probably going to look back on the last 10 years and wish I could have them back, and again at 40, and again at 50. And from that perspective, it’s kind of like I got my wish. I’ll one day wish that I could go back to being 23, and today that wish is granted. I just have to do something to make sure I don’t regret the next seven years. I’ve also realized that the speed of progress isn’t all that important, as long as I’m always moving forward and enjoying it. See, many many generations before your time, and mine as well, the average life span was around 20-30 years. My ancestors were happy with it, and yet I get to live 4-5 times longer than that, with the possibility of even further extension. Even if I had done absolutely nothing till now, I still have three whole lifetimes left to be whatever I want. I can spend one of them relaxing, one of them making friends, and still have one left to write that novel and save the world.

What I want to say, 50000, is please don’t feel bad if your world doesn’t measure up to our hopes. It’s your world, not ours, and you’re obviously surviving, which is all we can really ask of our genetic legacy. That said, please live your life in a way that you think the next few hundred centuries would be proud of.
If something’s holding you back, please get rid of it; if there’s some star you haven’t seen, please go there, or lay the groundwork so others can go there. I’m sure there’s a lot of people telling you all about what is and isn’t possible, but please don’t listen. Remember that a critic is someone who’s almost good enough not to be a critic. If we figure out immortality by 2080 or so, I’ll tell you more in person, but if we don’t, that will be all right. Life is pretty good right now.

*That’s a pun. Look it up.

P.S. In case you figure out time travel, I’ll be at latitude +42.135191. Longitude: -83.156124 from 2300 December 30 2009 to 1300 December 31, 2009, EST. After January 4 2010, you can find me around 41.922501/-87.651001 most days after 1800 CST.
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