When I walk into a bookstore, the sight of books sitting on the bookshelves comforts me. I go to a bookstore not knowing what I am seeking but there will always be something that catches my interest and it does not take long for me to pick up a good read. Words are powerful and I am often thrilled by beautiful writings, some may resonate with me while others may not but they do make me ponder. Given a chance, every writing does invoke something in each individual.
I only wish that the love of language could be taught. Words describe and transcend all that define us, our beliefs, our insecurities, our hypocrisies, our truths and the ordinary events that shape our lives. Poignant writings touch our hearts, humour tickle and make us see the lighter side of life while thought-provoking passages find its way to stir our conscience and touch our hearts.
Whenever I stumble upon really good writings, I fervently hope that many people read them. And I truly believe that it is through reading that one cultivates empathy and a much better understanding of humankind.
Recently I looked through my pile of books and resumed reading a young adult book that I had bought sometime ago. The Future of Us is written by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler in two voices, Emma’s and Josh’s.
It is 1996, less than half of all American high school students have ever used the internet. Emma’s parents are divorced and she lives with her mother and her mother’s new husband. Martin. She receives her fist computer from her dad and an America Online CD-ROM from her neighbour and best friend, Josh. They power up the computer and log on and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future. FACEBOOK is only invented in 2004. The premise of the story is that everybody wonders what their FUTURE will be but what if you can see from your FACEBOOK whom you are destined to marry or where you will be and you do not like it, will you tweak it?
Emma sees that she is going to marry a jerk and she has to try to intervene by looking up who the future husband is and where he lives. It is rather hilarious when she finds the her future husband lives in Tampa State, she scraps the idea of going to college in Tampa State even that has always been her first college choice. She wants to rule out the possibility of meeting the ‘husband’ so she does not end up marrying him.
In Josh’s voice,
‘JUST LIKE THAT, the future is changed forever.
Fifteen years of history ----- future history ------is changed because Emma didn’t like the guy she married. But she only had a few sentences from fifteen years in the future to work with. That’s not nearly enough information to make such a drastic decision about her life. And his life ! Come to think of it, any person who was impacted by their relationships, even in the slightest way, will be twisted in countless new directions.
I want to both scream and laugh hysterically. Instead, I crumple the photocopy in my hand and throw it across the room. The paper barely makes a sound when it hits the wall.
“ You can’t do that !” I shout.’
If only you could pre-empt bad things from happening but Josh is annoyed with her and tells her that all she sees is snippets of the future and she should not tamper with the future in that manner. According to Facebook, Josh’s future is secured.
Josh says to Emma, “ We need to do things exactly as we would’ve done them before Facebook.”
To Emma, she sees that she is not happy and that needs to change, and she realizes that one little ripple can change the future and Josh thinks it is dangerous stuff.
When Josh looks into the FACEBOOK, he sees that he is going to settle down with Sydney Mills , the IT girl in school, he becomes more confident. When he manages to get Sydney’s attention, Josh finds that he does not connect with Sydney Mills to whom he is supposed to be married fifteen years from now.
Josh is therefore in a dilemma, he contacts his brother, David.
“ I know what your problem is ,” David says.
“ I have a problem?”
“ You’re a go-with-the-flow guy,” he says. “ You’ve always been that way. And that can feel great because it means you don’t have to make any hard decisions. But sometimes you need to figure out what you want, Josh. If that means you need to swim against the tide to get it, at least you’re aiming for something that could make you very happy.”
I twist the swing in the other direction.
“ Where do you want to go to college?” David asks.” I know you won’t have to deal with that until next year, but where are you considering now? “
I laugh into the phone . He thinks I’m going to say Hemlock State, where Mom and Dad work. But I’ve seen Facebook. I know where I’m going, and he’s wrong. “The University of Washington,” I say.
The protagonists realise that even the smallest change to their present will ripple into the future so they should stop trying to tamper with what they think might be their future by just reading into their posts on Facebook. They decide to stop looking to the future, they must live in the here and now. Yes one must always focus on the present. What will be, will be.