I was just chatting with a cousin on facebook - reflecting on our grandfather's 97th birthday this week. We both expressed a hope that we got the genes from his side of the family. His father lived to be 100, and nearly all of his 10 siblings made it into their 90's, late 90's.
We also both expressed a desire to make it to our 75th anniversaries, but when I started thinking about those dates they range from the early 2060s to the early 2080s. Those don't sound like dates. They sound like numbers from science fiction! (Then again, so does 2010, but I'm getting used to that one!)
Grandpa Van Dyken was born in 1913 - before there was such a thing as a world war and only 10 years after the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk and Henry Ford produced the first Model A. He was born before highways or traffic jams or commercial air flight.
Today as we celebrated as a family at Bethany Home with Grandpa, we noticed the computers in the social room there and wondered how many of the residents use them! They look a bit dated but relatively untouched!
In his time both World Wars were fought, and families went from traveling by horse and buggy to car - and from using kerosene lamps to electric lighting. The Golden Age of Hollywood didn't BEGIN until more than 10 years after his birth. When he was born, Russia was still Russia and hadn't become the Soviet Union yet; now it is Russia again. The entire Soviet Era was encapsulated within only a portion of his life.
He was born the month after President Taft left office, and he has seen 17 different presidential administrations. He was born before "Hitler" or "Einstein" were household names - representing evil and intelligence respectively.
In his time the Roaring '20s have come and gone, as has the Jazz Age, the Big Band Era, Woodstock, the Beatles, Watergate, the Vietnam War . . .
He was born nearly 30 years before Penicillin was developed and marketed - before MRI's and CAT scans and Prozac. In his lifetime we have put man on the moon and sent rovers to Mars. We have developed computers and jet airplanes and cell phones, nuclear energy and nuclear weapons.
I often hear technology is increasing exponentially. If this is so, and if my cousin and I make it to our respective 75th anniversaries, we will have seen far, FAR MORE change in our lifetimes than Grandpa has in his. This is hard to fathom. I can't imagine anything beyond changes to what we have already - making things smaller and faster and more effective, but if we see change like he did, we will see things we can't even imagine!
Afterall, as a young man could he have imagined flying cross country or texting?
If this "progress" can sustain itself, what will we see? Human colonization of other planets? Time travel? Or things so far beyond that, that we truly cannot imagine them now - as he could not have imagined those things then?