If in some Marty McFly moment of madness you had come screaming out of the distant future in the driving seat of a DeLorean – which, according to the website, is actually a stylish(ish) item of luggage, (nobody saw that coming in the films!) – tyres flaming and flux capacitor capacitating – or whatever it is they do – to come screeching to a halt in front of me… i would probably run away screaming. Having later caught up with me, restored my sensibilities with copious draughts of alcohol and convinced me that i wasn’t hallucinating, even then there are some things i wouldn’t believe, no matter how persuasive your arguments.
If, for example, you were to tell me that one day in the future, i’d find myself sat in a coffee shop on my way to work, writing short stories about theoretical physics, i’d have thought the future population of earth, despite their evident time-travelling prowess, were slightly mad. In fact, if you told me that i’d regularly be churning out written missives for the masses, on a whole host of varied and diverse subjects on a routine basis, i would definitely question your sanity, (and probably my own too).
Then inform me that i’d have developed interests in programming languages and 3D-design, and that my tastes in art, expression and music would be pursuing routes that i never knew existed… that i’d be cultivating friendships that spanned the globe and spending a fair amount of my free time socialising with people i’d never met, then i’d have honestly thought you’d mistaken me for somebody else entirely.
Round it all off by telling me that all of this would have been the product of my involvement in a world that only exists on the other side of a computer screen and within the imaginations of the people involved with it and i’d be convinced that the future of humanity had slipped completely into funny farm territory.
Not me: the practical, pragmatic, realist. Not me: the solid, dependable type, not prone to flights of fancy and frivolous pursuits. And yet, my friends from the future, that is exactly what appears to have happened over the past few years and – despite the fact that i’m a veritable font of all human knowledge, complete smarty pants and know-it-all – it’s something that, try as i might, i find incredibly hard to explain.
It doesn’t help that it all feels a little bit subversive, underground and at odds with normal behaviour. Either that, or i just find myself plain embarrassed to admit to the world in general that i spend a large chunk of my time and energy involving myself in a very different world, that is – essentially – make-believe. Although, maybe that’s a little harsh – after all, one of the greatest attributes of the human mind and consciousness is its capacity for escapism – and escapism is no bad thing, when you think about it.
If it wasn’t for escapism, we wouldn’t have fairy stories, fiction, movies, the performing arts, fancy dress, carnival and a vast amount of things that we consider to be artistic and creative, it’s also a fundamental tenet of teaching and learning, the theoretical sciences and philosophy. The ability to distance ourselves mentally and emotionally from the reality of the physical world is what frees us to set aside the limitations that world imposes and to go beyond the possible into the realms of ‘what if’, ‘perhaps’ and ‘i wonder’, and whilst there are those who might consider the realm of fantasy and escapism to be unworthy of the human condition, and that we should be applying ourselves to the problems and business of everyday living, i would have to disagree. Some of the most revolutionary and world-changing ideas have only been possible because their progenitors were people capable of dreaming; people unafraid of ‘blue skies’ thinking; people able to think outside the box; those who envisage strange particles, multiple dimensions and, well… virtual worlds.
On a smaller scale, indulging in escapist pursuits can lead to all sorts of unexpected things. When i look at the new and still evolving avenues that sl has sent me exploring over the past few years, i can’t help but wish it had all happened sooner, but i’m certainly not complaining!
Oh, and if you are from the future, would you mind telling me next week’s winning lottery numbers, please?
Someday I’ll wish upon a star,
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where trouble melts like lemon drops
High above the chimney top
That’s where you’ll find me
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Somewhere Over The Rainbow