What Will I Be Doing in 50 Years? What Will the World Be Like?

posted in
Send by email
Catlin Gabel Students Speculate on Life in 2058

Betsy McCormick, kindergarten teacher: "The good thing is that you can be anything you want to be." Kindergartener: "I knew that!"

Kindergarteners

I’ll be a doctor driving a helicopter, instead of an ambulance, to take people from far away to St. Vincent.
I want to be President, and the most important thing I’ll do is speak into a microphone.
I’ll be in the Secret Service. I’ll get around by motorbike, talk with a walkie-talkie, jump from rooftops, and protect the President most of the time.
I’m going to be an astronaut, going to places by rocket ship to help people on other planets.

Lower Schoolers

I’ll have a successful, well-paying job, and a family. I’ll be an artist, a musician, or a writer.
I’ll be a zookeeper, because I like baby animals.
I hope to be a professional dancer.
I’ll definitely be a marine biologist.
I’ll be an actor or a teacher, since I’ve done acting.
I’ll be sitting down in a rocking chair with my sons talking about the NFL. I’ll be retired after being a professional skateboarder
I’ll have a pretty average life with my kids. It’ll be a normal life, not so rich or poor.

Middle Schoolers

I’d like to work with kids, maybe as a pediatrician. I’d maybe live a few years abroad, but come back to Portland. Hopefully a lot will have changed in the future, and we will have worked out cultural issues like the Iraq war.
I’d like to live on the West Coast and work in the neonatal intensive care unit. There will be no wars and a stable government. We’ll be saving the environment so my kids can have good lives and not have to worry about global warming.
I hope the world will be in a good place. I want to make a difference. I don’t want to be a person who people forget.
I love working with little kids and may become a preschool or kindergarten teacher. I would live a year or two in Japan and be fluent in Japanese.

Upper Schoolers

I’ll still be working as a theater tech, because it doesn’t pay much, maybe as a sound designer. It would be fun to work on Broadway, but I can do anything.
When I think of my future, I think of success in every way!
I’d like to have a career in science, maybe chemistry. I’ll probably be married and have always wanted to live in Seattle.
When younger I see myself in an exciting city, but later I’ll gravitate to a quieter place. If I were to shoot as high as I could, I’d be involved in film as a writer or director

In 50 years, I will be in my mid-sixties. My dad is in his mid-sixties now. I sometimes ask him how he expected his life to turn out. When he was my age, what did he see himself doing for the rest of his life? He tells me that when he was in college, someone asked him the very question you are now posing to us. What will you be doing in 50 years?

“I’ll probably be a beach-comber,” he told him.

I have similar aspirations. Partly because it’s hard to look that far ahead. No one at age 16 is ready to say that someday they will be a retired lawyer with grown children. Instead, we see ourselves at our dining tables, in our living rooms, walking down a crowded street. We can see the moments we think we will not be able to avoid; these are the sitting moments alone in our houses and the moving moments among faces in a crowd, the beach-combing moments of our lives. No matter what we do with our lives, we will do this, we think.

In 50 years, I will be 66. That is older than both my parents and some of my grandparents. It is hard to imagine what kind of place the world will be. I can see myself old and wrinkled, sitting in a dusty house with mahogany floorboards. I see blue skies, not as blue as today’s, but blue. The hard part is not imagining the age of 60, but rather the time that would have passed to bring me to that age. Decisions I make in life, which seem so small, can influence everything. Whether or not I run for a bus or wait in the rain could have me thrown through continents or in college. How many more years of education can I endure, or will the rest of my life be spent learning, traveling, and experiencing? When will I begin to ask questions of me instead of being asked questions of? It’s not so much where I will be in 50 years, but the ribbon that will take me there.

In 50 years, everyone will breathe in short, shallow breaths.

City people will savor the now scarce scents of evergreens and hotdogs in public markets. Their nostrils will soon tire of the futuristic air fresheners tainted with smog and dust. Urban children’s breathing will slow to sleep as they roll hastily in strollers or SUVs to their next activity.

Country people, however, miss the smell of animals. Animals that used to abound in their farms, roosters whose crows awoke families and cows that gave fresh milk. Those farmers, they miss the smell of the milk, the pigs, the aromatic apple trees, the scent of nature.

Despite the lack of old scents, the unfamiliarity, everyone enjoys their quick inhales and exhales. They enjoy the excitement of a new aroma, hybrid fruits, and the smell of rain hitting pavement. Men and women walk through streets, farms, and offices, not forgetting the old smells but delighting in the new. Everyone breathes fast, mirroring the speed of their lives, and anticipating what is to come.

Grown tired with the giant leaps that technology has taken in the past decades, many people will have abandoned the fickle nature of silicone and reverted back to the ways that have proved to be most efficient. That is not to say that they do not use and reap the benefits of many great technological feats, they just mostly like to stick with the old ways. Cars will still fill the street, but they will find that they are encircled with more and more cyclists. The roads have been changed in recent years to accommodate such an influx of cranks and sprockets, and the world is starting to look thin again. Most people have realized that they must suit up for the battle against global warming, so cars have switched to hydrogen fuel cell and electricity for their energy sources. But, like many changes that take place, there are still those who insist upon their Suburbans and Escalades. They are always ready to fight, but secretly meet for anonymous groups at night to help them with their addictions. Numerous presidents have taken office, of all genders, races, and shapes. And, one man, determined to make a difference in the world, has sparked a revolution and brought Esperanto back into spoken language.

In 50 years, the places we love will look different. Mountains, once white with glaciers, will be brown. Grassy plains will become deserts and reefs will become open seas. We may find species living in new places, moving with the climate, or no longer living at all. Wars will be fought over water and energy and fertile land. I, at 67, will have seen these changes happen. I will have climbed the receding glaciers and studied the shifting ecosystems and watched humanity battle itself. But my hope is that some things will not change. That I will still be surrounded by people I love, and that if I pile into my hydrogen car with them and keep driving we will still find a place of beauty.

The state of the world today drives even the most logical of us to question if we’ll even be here in 50 years. We’re running out of oil, we’re growing only corn, and as the population keeps growing, we’re getting closer and closer to what seems like a consumption-induced purge of the human race. It’s easy to throw up our hands, and to think, “that’s it! We’re done for!” The scope of the problems the world faces today is immense. But in a roundabout way, there’s comfort in the fact that if we’re around at all in 50 years, we’ll be digging ourselves out of a hole, not into it. Surely, we will see changes in government, trade, and international policies. But at this point, those things seem like a given. More important though, if we do want to maintain any form of civilized coexistence, communities will be key. We’ll have to learn to live our lives within those communities, not fragmented across the country or the world. I foresee us moving closer to real collaboration, and unless we want to have our children walking to school with gas masks on, we’re sure as hell going to have to take care of the environment.

I hope that in 50 years, I will have made some sort of mark of change in the world. Because I guess I don’t believe in any real afterlife, I want to be remembered by the people I might inspire or help, and I think one of the best possible ways to grasp the global picture and actually change things is to travel abroad. So in 50 years, I want to have traveled the world, and seen how humans live and connect with one another, and then I will be able to actually live, at 66 years old, and feel like I have some comprehension of the world around me.

In 50 years, the world will be the same. People haven’t changed over the millennia we’ve been around: we have loved, lost, regretted, cared, died, formed opinions, fought, and speculated. All of that won’t disappear in 50 years. Sure, the world might change physically or economically, since it seems we can’t go too long without some sort of international or natural disaster. Icebergs will melt, people will care and others won’t, and maybe some sort of solution will be reached. People will die, and some people will try and get other people to care and partially succeed. New technology will arise, and with it five-second trends and sayings that will stay for two months, maybe two years. People will still covet wealth and fame, and others will seek spiritual enlightenment. That’s the thing—no matter how much shorter our abbreviations become, crises occur, or opinions are raised, we’ll be the same. As long as we are human, the smaller details don’t make a difference.