The year was 1997. My final year of primary school. One afternoon the whole class was given an exercise about the future.
Each kid had to answer a number of questions, without knowing why. I won't pretend I recall them all exactly, but the gist was along the lines of - by 2020 when we were all grown up - what size house did you want, how many cars, how many jet skis, how many kids would you have? What kind of society did you want to live in?
What I have recalled every year or so in the decades since 1997 was that I still had room to peak until 2020. This has been very reassuring through the ups and downs of maturing into my 35 year old self. I've never been fully developed. My whole life was still ahead of me.
Now it is 2020 and I no longer have this last piece of evidence to point to in defense of any dreams and goals I haven't achieved. The deadline for capacity has arrived. And that is why I approach 2020 with a sense of trepidation. Well that along with the environment, climate, economy and humanity in general.
After the exercise, individual's answers were tabulated and everyone got back one of 16 spot-the-difference drawings of 2020 which varied in terms of the amount of farmland vs city, the amount of people in the unemployment queue, the amount of factory smoke being pumped into the atmosphere, the number of police and criminals being chased around.
I recall at 13 being inherently suspicious of traps and free things, so I'd been modest in selecting how many 24" CRT televisions with VHS players and sports cars I wanted. For my answers I received a middle of the road future. The majority of my classmates who'd been greedy received apocalyptic scenes with long unemployment lines, overcrowded cities and blackened skies. In hindsight, this exercise was actually really well put together and acutely prophetic of the world we could face in 2020.
I tried to Google the details and pictures from the exercise to add them to this entry, but I realised I waited to search for "school exercise future life in 2020" until the worst possible time.
Then I got distracted by my smartphone.