January is named after the Roman god Janus, who was often depicted as having two faces—one face looking back on the past and one looking forward to the future. The greatest blessing about the month of January is that it offers a fresh start—a chance to begin again.
This week our country faced violence and disruptions, so while tomorrow might seem troubling, perhaps we should ponder what the world will be like in 100 years. Yes, maybe we can have fun letting our minds wander to 2121. Can you guess what people in 1921 were predicting about 2021?
It seems folks who lived through the Spanish flu epidemic had plenty of thoughts in 1921 about what our world would look like in 100 years. One young student claimed, “All the knowledge we will ever need to know will be in a little device that we can carry around.” A cook for a former president predicted, “Baking, cooking, peeling, boiling and frying will be done with ease and modern inventions that will allow everyone to be a fantastic cook. No staff required.”
And because this was the dawn of electricity (only 30% of the homes in America had electricity in 1921), folks thought 2021 would be “lit up at the flip of a switch—entire cities, homes, roads and towns.”
The electrical engineer Charles Steinmetz predicted in 1921 that in the future, humans will be able to control their home temperatures to cool and heat our environments. Even more startling was that he seemed to have foreseen the rise of streaming services, claiming that music and all forms of entertainment will be available through a central station distributed to subscribers. A writer named Moses Folsom said “books will read to us” and predicted the rise of audio books.
Sometimes, we have a hard time planning for next week, much less far into the future. But kids have the imagination to look ahead. One child at my granddaughter’s school said she wanted to be like her grandparents.
As she explained, “They moved to a place where only old folks live. You have to get through a gate and past a little house where a man sits and asks you where you are going. If you give him the right answer, he opens the gate. Then you can play games with balls, like tossing pickles or golfing. My grandparents eat early birds and go to a wrecked room, but it looks like they fixed it up because it doesn’t seem wrecked at all. They have a lake nearby and must look for frogs or something, because my grandma says that is where they will be until they croak.” Yikes, that’s the future for me!
How is your crystal ball looking these days? Mine is kind of cloudy, yet I would rather look ahead out of the windshield than back through the rearview mirror. Goodbye, 2020. Hello, today and tomorrow.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a story of a comment? Email Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org.