We did not imagine the future.
We sat around tables in the late 1980’s, playing games pretending to be in the far distant future of 2013 (and later, 2020) as we played at cyberpunk.
We imagined meatwagons flying through the sky, cellphone modems taking up large parts of limbs, of decks and VR GUIs that were somehow more powerful than scripted commandlines. We thought of ourselves in that far-distant future, and realized we’d be in our forties, unimaginably old.
I imagined myself a schoolteacher when the 90’s came around, not someone who unexpectedly had a family. I never imagined myself in the Army; I remember making fun of “Kaneda” on the dial-up BBSes when he came back from BASIC. I now know he washed out of FTU; a path I narrowly escaped myself.
But I did not imagine that then.
I never considered that I would work in medicine, though my first Cyberpunk 2013 character was a medtech. I never considered that I’d be the kind of person who could look at lines of code in a movie and be amused at their blatant inaccuracy, surely left as an easter egg for people like myself.
I did not imagine that I would ever be in Korea. I did not ever imagine that an old classmate’s parent would represent me in a divorce.
I did not imagine 9/11.
When the tree in front of my house was planted, I never imagined how large it would grow. When I moved out, I never imagined that I would end up living in this house again with later loves.
I never imagined that my biological child would brag to the police about his plans to kill us. I never imagined that my quasi-adoptive son would grow into a young man. I never imagined that my second ex-wife, the one I tried to do right by, would still harbor such resentment against me years later.
I never imagined how much my relationship with Her would damage me, shape me, and heal me.
Nor did I imagine how I would do the same to her.
I never thought that I would find love again through seeing a picture over a friend’s shoulder, something so out of a John Hughes movie that it comes close to letting me forgive him for all the toxic dating advice his movies put in my head.
I never thought I’d fail, and be happy on the far side of failing, ready to try again.
You can make a similar list, at this, the end of an arbitrary demarcation of time.
A list of things you never expected, never planned for, but happened anyway.
Things that have been good, things that have been bad.
Things that have shaped you and created you.
This is what New Year’s is for. Taking stock, and realizing that you never expected your life to be the way it is.
And realizing that you have no clue what comes next.
Maybe it’s something good. Maybe it’s something bad.
None of us know.
And that unknowing, that uncertainty, is what makes it beautiful.
Happy New Year, everyone.
Remember to breathe. And don’t sweat whether or not your watch is set to atomic time.