Future Presents

wormhole-2514312_640The story goes something like this…

In June of 1951, a number of people in New York City’s Times Square spotted a strange man standing in the middle of the street. About 20 years old, the man was dressed in late 19th century clothes and appeared confused. No one could recall seeing him arrive, and as the horrified masses watched, he was hit and killed by a taxi driving through the intersection.

At the morgue, several odd items were found in his pockets:

  • A beer token, made of copper and worth five cents at a pub no one had ever heard of.
  • An invoice from a livery stable for the card and washing of a horse and carriage.
  • Approximately $70 in old banknotes.
  • A 3rd place medal from a three-legged race.
  • Business cards for Rudolph Fentz, showcasing an address of Fifth Avenue.
  • A letter to Fentz’s address sent from Philadelphia in 1876.

Oddly enough, none of these items showed any signs of aging. It was as if this young man had suddenly been transported from the late 1800’s into 1950’s New York City. Investigation turned up no usable information on the man. The address on the business cards was that of a local business, but no one there had ever heard of Rudolph Fentz. His name was not listed in the telephone directory and fingerprints did not return a match.

There was a Rudolph Fentz, Jr. listed in an archived telephone book from 1939 though, and that turned out to be a legitimate lead. Fentz Jr.’s widow was still alive and living in Florida. She told investigators that her father-in-law had disappeared in 1876. He had gone out for a walk and simply vanished.

Imagine if you could travel 75 years into the future in just an instant. Imagine how strangely different things would appear. Your physical surroundings, the sights and sounds; everything you know suddenly transformed into the stuff of dreams. How frightening, and yet how exciting it would be at the same time.

Now think about the ways in which you might be influencing the future. How will the actions you take today impact the world 75 years from now? Are you building a future that you would be proud of? Is your team working toward a future that is bright and exciting, or will people be underwhelmed to learn of your contribution?

Most of us don’t spend a lot of time thinking so far ahead. We think in terms of today or this week. Perhaps we occasionally dream about what we want to accomplish within the next year, or possibly even the next five. But 75 years from now? That’s just a little too far off for us to consider. Or is it?

What if we approached our work, not with an eye for leaving on time at the end of the day, but for leaving a legacy for future generations? What if we knew our names would be forever attached to the things we are creating today? If we were suddenly transported 75 years into the future, would we be happy with the world we have created, or would we find ourselves standing, dazed and confused, in the middle of an intersection wondering where all that time went?