A link to this 25-years-from-now video time capsule just landed in my inbox, and I went over to the “In 25 Years” web site and looked at some of the sample videos. As I did so, I actually had a mental math shutdown. I was unable to subtract 1953 from 2035, which is when the time capsule will be opened, and just as unable to add 25 to 57. Both of those numbers would tell me the age I will be 25 years from now. But I’ve managed to face the truth, the answer is 82, and I have to wonder not only what shape this poor sweet world will be in by then, but whether I’ll still be alive to see it.
The time capsule project was thought up by a bunch of young people: a young Californian named Pearl Wible and, from the looks of the web site, a couple of her young Californian friends. The most ambitious part of their plan is that after they’ve “sealed off” the video time capsule (which will live somewhere in the internet cloud, as near as I can tell), they will try to gather together all the contributors they can find in 2035 for a huge middle-aged reunion.
I love how some of the people talking into their webcams say things like, “Hello future me.” Such confidence. Such sincerity. But there’s some black humor there, too, like the young guy who says, “If you’re seeing this now, it means I didn’t drink myself to death.”
If I made a video and were talking to my 82-year-old self, I would no doubt say something different than these 25-year-olds are saying as they talk to themselves at 50. I’m not sure what it would be, though. Would I tell my 82-year-old self that I should have realized that my 50s were my best years? Would I tell her that I expect she’ll have found out that things kept getting better the older I got, as I watched daily tribulations fade away and leave me with concerns only about what really mattered? Or would I be using the time-capsule video to talk not really to my future self at all — since there’s a pretty good chance that I’ll have died by then — but to my future middle-aged daughters, to tell them how central they were to my life? Who knows. Maybe I would just use it, once there’s nothing left to lose, to tell all the annoying people in my 2010 life to fuck off.
In a way, we all want to know how the story of our lives will turn out. But in a bigger way, I think, we don’t. I love the idea of the video time capsule, to be opened in 25 years, but it’s more than I can bear to try to picture my 82-year-old self clearly enough to have a conversation with her.