The Time Capsule Part 1

Back in late 1999, when the world was obsessed with the new millennium (and the fear of Y2K), my school decided that they wanted to bury a time capsule to be opened at the turn of the next century or millennium, I can’t remember which. Anyway, us students were asked to each create something to go into the capsule and the top X amount of entries were selected to be buried in it along with a massive school photograph. Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept of a time capsule, the idea is to create a set of objects that encapsulate the current times to show the future what life was like back in these days. Basically, you put a load of memories in some sort of container that will last for as long as needed to then be opened in X amount of years and the thought is that when it was opened it will create some amazing insight into the past.

My guess is that a lot of these capsules lie in the ground, rotting away and completely forgotten about. Having said that, it’s an interesting topic to think what would be the 10 things you would put in your own time capsule and, most importantly, why. It’s an idea that will probably become obsolete with advancing technology but I wanted to share what I would put in my capsule if I wanted someone else to open it in 100 years, because it forces you to think about what will happen in the future, what will are world be like and what do we have now that we won’t even think about in the future. So without further ado here are my top 10 items:

  1. A copy of “The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy” by Douglas Adams. With the current shift in books from the paper format to the electronic versions people have on their e-readers, I would be surprised if the humble real book exists in 2115. For me, I don’t mind having electronic books, but there is still nothing like having the real physical book in your hands. The feel of the pages, the creases of bent over corners to mark your place, the cracking of the spine (which I was taught by my year 12 English teacher is the only way to tell if someone has actually read a book) and the social interaction of saying to someone “You should read this, you’ll love it. Here you go, you can borrow my copy” instead of “Here, I’ll send you the link” in an electronic message. Why the Hitchhikers Guide? Because it is a true work of comedic genius while being a great social commentary, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and it has already stood the test of time. Douglas Adams published the first copy of the first part of the trilogy (ironically written in five parts) in 1972 after starting it as a radio series the previous year,  and it is still be read and enjoyed by people today, over 40 years later! It has been adapted into stage shows, a TV series, a computer game, comic books and, most recently, a full-blown Hollywood-funded film. There have been additional books published by other writers, and today, it seems to be a staple in any good book collection. If you haven’t read it, go buy it (or borrow it), you won’t regret it.
  2. A copy of the Miles Davis Album ‘Kind of Blue’. There are literally thousands of albums I could have picked for this, but this one is pretty special. When I was in school and had a jazz trio I played with, we played a few of the tracks in this album and they were a joy to be able to play. This album has some of the highest accolades you can imagine, music writers all around the world have labeled this album as one of the most influential albums every recorded, and it is acknowledged as influential not only to jazz, but to all genres of music, from classical to rock and all others in-between. It is also said to be (there are some arguments over figures here) the best-selling jazz album record…of all time. If you haven’t heard it, click the link above and check it out, if you’re having a rough day, it will make the world right again. As a lover of music, the thought of a world in the future dominated by electronic based music where no real instruments are involved completely terrifies me. This would be my hope to combat that nightmare.
  3. A beginner’s guide on how to play piano. Following on from my fear of the loss of true music, the aim of this is to re-introduce the future to playing real instruments, and what instrument is more universal than a piano. You can literally play any style of music on piano and to have an understanding of playing the piano is to have and understanding of how music theory and form works. It gives you a way to understand chords, harmony, rhythm, tone, pitch and just about every other key building block of music. It is no coincidence that if you ask almost anyone who has written a bucket list, they will tell you that learning a musical instrument is on it. For me as a musician, playing a real life instrument, whether it be piano, drums, trombone, tuba, guitar or in fact any other instrument is a form of meditation. It clears my head, helps me concentrate, gets rid of frustration and anger and grounds me in a way I can’t get from anything else. There is a special feeling that comes from playing (even if you aren’t any good) that you just can’t get from an instrument app on your phone. The key to this is that you don’t have to play for anyone else, just playing for yourself works just as well (and sometimes better!).
  4. A guide on how to have a real life conversation with somebody and the art of using an actual pen. The social media machine, massive advancements in electronic messaging and phone technology and the need to feel connected to the whole world at once has ruined real life social interactions. Just think, when was the last time you just put your phone down and went out and actually had an awesome conversation, in person, with someone. We as a people in the first world are talking to people face-to-face less and less and as a result we are losing a big part of what makes us human. What worries me is that if it is this bad already, how much worse will it be in 100 years? We are governed by technology and the importance of making everything more efficient. It’s not just face-to-face interactions that are suffering either, when was the last time you sat down and actually hand wrote a letter to somebody? A study done in 2012 by UK-based company Docmail revealed that 33% of people had difficulty reading their own handwriting! When I was in school we did an hour of handwriting classes every week for 7 years. When my sister went through the same school 12 years later, that class only happened for the first 3 years. Again if it has declined so much already, the future is in some serious trouble.
  5. A newspaper. Following on from this obsession with technology, the humble newspaper. Since the 17th century, newspapers have been spreading news around the world, enlightening people everywhere. However sadly the institution of the paper newspaper is on the decline as more and more of us look to the internet to keep us up to date. We have grown too impatient to wait until tomorrow to find out the day’s news and now require up-to-the-minute news stories like the ones we can find on internet-based news platforms. I buy the newspaper most days, and while I admit I mostly do it for the puzzles, it is always good to have a look through it to see what has been happening. Sadly it’s something I can’t see lasting too much further into the future and soon the days will end when people are waking up reading the paper with a coffee and breakfast, instead they’ll be browsing the news websites and social media to keep themselves up-to-date. The phrase “Patience is a virtue” springs to mind here.

This post has turned out to be much longer than I imagined so today I will stop here. Stay tuned for the second part of this post which will be released later this week. If you don’t want to miss out on the conclusion of this post, subscribe to the mailing list below and you’ll be notified when the next one comes along as well as my other musings in the future.

This topic has really captured my imagination and has me thinking about what others would put into their time capsules, I would love to hear what you, the reader, would put into your time capsule and why. Let me know by either sending me a private message here, or by commenting below. So until next time…

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