One hundred thousand years ago, when I was in high school, telephones were devices for voice communication almost solely located inside of fixed structures, like the home or those weird pods found on fridge magnets with the word “London” printed over them. These pods were called “phone booths.” This, of course, is wildly unimportant, not only to you, but to the history of man and life on Earth, more broadly.
Why the (fairly) recent history of the telephone is important is that when I was in high school, absolutely nobody anticipated stores that sell only telephone covers as a viable business model. In fact, the concept of telephone cover salesperson as career path would have been hilarious, fit for a Coneheads skit on Saturday Night Live.
So that goes to show how little you know about the next 25 years of your life
Additionally, absolutely nobody, not even science fiction masterminds, imagined a future world in which the primary purpose of telephones would be not voice communication, but sending and receiving photos of family and friends with superimposed bunny noses and ears. Further, had I told my parents I wanted to be the scientist or engineer who finally cracked real-time live telephone-video virtual bunny nose and ear application, I would have probably lost my college funding and had to join the army.
At least we were in a time of peace!
I’ve been teaching for 16 years, and next year, I’m going to do a different job entirely. My new work will build on my experience, education, skills, and passion for teaching and learning, which seems like a good foundation. The shape and texture of this decision feel right, for now.
However, predicting the shape and texture of my personal or professional life 16 years from now is impossible. I think I won’t bother trying. Every possibility is a fiction, however intriguing. As a dealer of fiction and instructor in the dark arts of exploring fiction, let me assure you there are better yarns to follow than the anxious stories we tell ourselves as beams of weak light into the ether. Imagining the future always fails, anyway, because we fail to imagine the profound absurdity awaiting us.
Telephone cover stores! Seriously!
Whatever you may choose to pursue today, tomorrow, and in the future, build on your own experience, education, skills, and interests, maybe even passions, should you be so lucky to have some at this point in your life. Granted, this is not original advice, but neither is “Be nice to people,” which is still good advice. I’d do better to remember it more often, myself.
Even if you peruse this list of foundational traits to build on and find it totally lame, fully without merit, and sappy, remember: The worst possible basis for any decision is a certain prediction of the future.
And so, take heart! We all have much to live for over the next decade or so before SnapVision superimposes bunny noses and ears on everyone, always, thanks to Elon Musk’s neural web technology. Enjoy it while you can.
Ian Hoke (Teacher)