The start of a new year is a marker causing us to think about where we are in a life span that may end up giving us 70, or 80, or 90 years. I remember thinking as a kid that the year 2000 was an impossibly distant point in the future and contemplating how old I’d be when it arrived — 53 years old!
In our younger years we’re consumed with things of the future — the work we’ll do, the people we’ll love, the places we’ll go, and the things we’ll see. At a certain point, we may become angry at the way the older generation has messed things up, looking for ways that we might do things differently.
At the dawn of 2019, we’re long past 2000, and I’m long past 53. For people at my stage of the journey, most of what we were looking forward to has already happened, one way or another, and the stories of today stretch toward a horizon beyond which we won’t be able to go.
But there are lots of stories I’d like to follow far into the future. One is the survival of democracy – and whether the Western nations will get it together to halt the drift toward dictatorship.
Climate change is another one. Changes now besetting the Earth will continue long after I’m gone — as the Arctic melts and the rest of the world experiences unpredictable changes.
These stories will continue through the life span of my grandchildren, and one thing I’m sure of is I don’t want them to experience the kind of upheavals and suffering that took place in the middle years of the 20th century. That’s the period when I was born, a time when my parents’ generation was hopeful it could do a better job of securing a peaceful future.
They aren’t around anymore. And my generation has 10 or 20 or 30 years to do what we can. Beyond that, time will hand history to our kids and grandkids, and New Year’s is a good time to keep them in mind and wish them the best.