As humans, we tend to limit future prospects to what has been possible in the past. And why not? Every bit of our experience has happened in the past. Even what’s immediately present cannot be made sense of until it slips into the past. You can’t make complete sense of this sentence until you have finished it–until it’s in the past.
But future possibilities can be Houdini-like. They can slip the chains of the past and find freedom and opportunity that have never before existed. Here’s an example . . .
In the latter half of the 19th century there was great concern in New York City that by 1930 Gotham would be buried in three stories of horse-poop. The growth in commerce and population had brought a horrific increase in four-legged beasts of burden and consequently in their bodily eliminations. Most New Yorkers also believed that the city had reached its growth limit, that it could not possibly take on any more people and horses.
And why wouldn’t they have believed this? Weren’t they naturally anticipating the future on the basis of the past? After all, at the middle of the 19th century, the internal combustion engine, which would bring motorized vehicles to outmode horses, hadn’t yet been thought-of; the elevator and other engineering innovations (that would enable skyscrapers) hadn’t yet arrived.
So, in limiting themselves to the possibilities of the past, 19th-century New Yorkers were understandably pessimistic.
But the last time I checked, Manhattan is still building. The last time I was there, even though the scents weren’t the most aromatic, I caught nary a whiff of horse poop.
In this week’s podcast, we look at a couple of individual cases where the future slipped the bonds of the past and changed bad luck into good.
I hope you’ll give it a listen. You can do so by pressing the link below, or by dialing it up on Apple Podcasts or Spotify or a number of other podcast platforms.
As always, thanks for reading, thanks for listening.
C’mon wid it!