Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see the future, even if it was only a minute ahead?
Looking into the Future?
Trying to Know the Future
I used to watch the television show Star Trek, the original television series back in the 60’s, not the re-runs, not any of the follow-on series, not re-runs of the follow-on series, but the original Star Trek. It filled up my elementary school childhood head with thoughts of aliens and other planets, and made me wonder about all the things those aliens could do. They could do strange things, things like mind-control, mind-reading, empathy, traveling through outer space, and traveling through time.
About the same time the television show was running, my parents or my grandparents got me a Kreskin’s ESP 'game'. Kreskin's ESP game was all about tapping into your extra-sensory perception ability. It had symbol cards, a bobbing pendulum, and I think it may have had a Ouija board. None of that stuff ever worked, at least, for me it never worked. Like most other people, it seems I lack that extra-sensory ability that allows me to understand the extra-sensory perspective on life.
I kept on trying, as kids do, trying to do something just because everyone made it sound like it would be really special if I could do something with those things. I was not alone. My sister tried too. My parents knew it would never work, but, like all things unknown, maybe they were not one-hundred percent positive that it would never work. They would ask us every now and then how it was going. Of course, we had nothing to tell. I just thought it would be neat if I could see or predict the future.
Learning to See the Future?
ESP games were not the only things we played with. I also had a little AM radio I could listen to (not the one I built from scratch though). We had a family television we could watch downstairs, a little TV with rabbit ear antennae. Dad or Mom would run us out of the living room if we were too full of being kids when the TV was on. We would get sent upstairs to our rooms and play with our games, Lincoln Logs, Lego’s, erector sets or science kits, or just listen to the radio.
On one of those rambunctious days I thought I had found a way to peek into the future. We were watching a ball game on TV and we got sent to our rooms. The Cubs were playing (Go Cubs Go) and were at bat. We were downstairs, got too loud, and got sent to our rooms. I went to my little radio and turned it on to hear the rest of the inning. But, what was this? The radio was talking about the other team being at bat. I quietly snuck back downstairs, peeked around the corner, just in time to see (miracle of miracles), the very same play I had just heard on the radio. Confused, I went back upstairs, and listened to the radio some more. I would hear a play, and then sneak back downstairs to see it on the TV. I did that until the stairs creaked, and my Dad hollered “When I tell you to go to your room, you go to your room!”
I had learned something, but not sure what, the radio was letting me hear what was going to happen on TV next. I could predict the future. So what to do with my new found knowledge?
I went to sleep and forgot about it.
Telling the Future
I forgot about it until … Dad decided to relax one day in his comfy old recliner downstairs and watch the last few holes of a golf match on the TV. The chair was the kind where you pull the handle and you can lean back and relax. The golf match was the U.S. Open (at least I always remember it as the U.S.Open). Dad was a big Jack Nicklaus fan, and so, of course, was I. It was a Sunday, and for some reason we were already playing upstairs. Dad downstairs in the comfy old recliner watching the golf match, me upstairs lying on the floor with my ear close to the radio listening to the same match. Golf is a painfully slow game with little action and lots of walking. Birdies are exciting stuff. Eagles are a rarity.
As I listened to the radio, I realized I could also hear the TV, and noted, that like the Cubs game, the radio was telling me what I would see on the TV, if I could only go watch. There was about twenty seconds delay, between radio and TV. Somebody made a great shot to get them closer to the lead. The temptation was too much. I went downstairs. “Dad? I bet you a nickel that next shot lands on the green and rolls back to the pin”. Dad said “Go to your room”. I said “Watch! You’ll see” as I delayed to watch his reaction to the shot on TV. The shot landed, and sure enough, did exactly what the radio said it would do. Dad just looked at me funny. I ran to my room, not wanting to miss the next shot on the radio, flailing my arms and saying “I can see the future”. Dad just stayed in his comfy chair.
A bit later, the most memorable shot of my childhood occurred. I think it was Jack Nicklaus, chipping a shot from well off the green for an eagle, and taking the lead in the tournament. Excited I ran downstairs, “I can see the future! He’s going to chip it in for an eagle” I cried, as the television showed him getting ready to make the shot. Dad listened this time and said “not likely”. He made the shot; it flew up onto the green, and rolled to the hole. Dad turned red, this time chasing me up the stairs to see what I was up to. He saw I was listening to the radio, and that it was broadcasting ahead of the TV.
... You cannot fool all the people all the time
That ended my claims to Dad that I could see the future, but the lesson stayed.
He who gets the news first can fool some of the people some of the time.
As I grew it seemed to me the folks who learned this lesson best had good careers in politics.
But, like them, you should not fool Dads. They catch on too quick.
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