Yesterday, I Took a Stroll in the Future

From William Gibson (December 2003)

The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed

‘Every now and then, I don’t post during the day. It is rare, but it does happen. And yesterday was one of those days. I couldn’t post because something important was happening here in Tartu. It took all day and evening.

The story starts a while back when my friend and partner told me about something that a young lady was trying to do. This young lady is a teacher and as a teacher, she spends a lot of time with young folks trying to help them get ready for the future. And she was a bit frustrated that school was not enough for them. So she wanted to do something more. Something that would inspire young folks. Something that would give them new ideas. Something that would connect them to the best that our community can offer.

It sounds ambitious and it is. What could do all of that? It would have to be an event that young people prepared for by thinking through ideas and writing them down. At the event, the community would gather and make the group of young folks the center of attention. And we would share with them our ideas about what is important for the future. Then we would have a party.

That all happened yesterday here in Tartu. Here is a picture from the day

The folks sitting on the couches are various groups of young folks who came to the event. Each person had submitted an essay about the past and the future.

The day started with a rock concert. BTW, before playing, the musician walked around saying hi to the young folks and then talked to them about his hopes for their future. After the music, which was pretty cool, there were a few presentations from well-known persons, who shared what they thought young folks needed to know about success in life. After each short talk, the young folks had a chance to discuss what was said among themselves and ask questions to the presenters BTW, because they had a chance to discuss what was said, the questions they asked were interesting. Then came the jury who selected the best essays and the awards. Last but not least, a party in a beautiful garden.

And finally, it was time to head home.

It looks like daytime, but in fact, it was getting late in the evening. We are in that time of the year when the days here are very long.

You might say that it was just an essay contest. And if you did, I could not say that you would be wrong. I would add that it was much more than that. Folks gathered to share their dedication to the future. Everyone felt part of a group. Everyone was honored to be part of that group.

Especially touching for me was how prominent members of the community came — not to show off how important they are, but to show the young folks that the young folks are more important to us than our past and current successes. Who we are now means nothing if there is no path to a future that goes beyond us. And that path is more than just knowledge, or wealth, or ideology or ethnicity or transactions, or a set of beliefs. The path is built through personal relationships that are remembered fondly over time.

And ao we had a lot of fun at an essay contest!

It all started with an idea that a lady had who wanted to go beyond what she was doing at work. That young lady was able to form a group who worked with her. And they formed various larger groups of folks — me included — who contributed what we could in order to support the idea.  That built a network and out of that network came an event. And out of the event comes confidence that the relationships that started and changed because of the event will grow. That makes me optimistic and happy to be part of something that I believe in. It makes me a better person.

I look forward to sitting down with the young folks who organized the event to ask them what they learned by doing it. Could they do it better? That should be interesting.

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2 thoughts on “Yesterday, I Took a Stroll in the Future”

  1. Dear Michael, thank you for your wonderful essay about the marvelous day! You are right: it all happened only because there were people (like yourself!) who wanted to contribute their precious time, heart and spirit to create feeling of trust. Sir Kenneth Clark would be happy to see the self-confidence of the nation growing… to avoid the fall of civilization!

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