Editorial: Greetings from the Future

Trent Ernst, Editor


Dear Tumbler Ridge:

I am writing you from the future.

Not that far into the future. 16 hours, to be precise.

The future is a lot like the present, only warmer.

Or maybe that’s because I’m in Australia. We’re down here because Zoe’s was granted a wish from the Make a Wish Foundation.

The fact that I can work on the newspaper while on the far side of the world is both sad and incredible. Sad, because I am sitting here in a hotel room, staring out at a beach that I could be sitting on, working on the newspaper. But incredible, because I can work on the newspaper, and, with only a few exceptions, I can do nearly anything here that I could do in the office.

In that respect, maybe I am writing this from the future.

Another thing about the future? People drive on the wrong side of the road here. It’s a bit confusing, especially since I am, out of necessity, one of those people.

Indeed, it’s been a challenge fighting thirty years of conditioning, of going to the left-hand side of the car to get in to drive. Buckling up the seat belt from the right hand side.

And the trouble is, it’s not completely reversed, only mostly so. The gas pedal? Is still on the right. And the turn signals are on the right hand side of the steering column.

(Um. Is it on the right hand side? Now that I’ve been here for a few days, I can’t remember if the turn signal indicator is on the left or the right there in the past.)

I can tell you that it still feels completely weird to turn left on a red light, because you don’t cross in front of oncoming traffic to turn left. And the first time I tried to park the car? How bizarre.

Oh. And the very first thing that I encounter while driving out of the car park at the airport? Is a roundabout. Sorry, traffic circle for all you Canadians. Which way do I go around this thing? Fortunately, there was no traffic, and the sign indicated to rotate in a clockwise direction, but that first drive from the airport to my hotel was a bit nerve wracking.

But after a couple of days it became…well, not natural, but less unnatural. I still have to think long and hard when turning a corner as to which lane I’m going to end up in, but I haven’t started driving the wrong way down the street, yet.

And it got me thinking, as things like this do, about the way we learn things, and the way we unlearn things.

There’s a story about how elephants are trained. When they are young, there is a chain placed around their legs and attached firmly to a stake.

They get used having this unbreakable chain around their leg, and no longer fight it.

So, as they get older, they stop trying to break the chain. And the elephant trainer stops using the chain. Instead, they start using just a thin piece of rope, barely staked into the ground. Even though the elephant has grown in strength and power, it has become conditioned to not being able to break the chain, and so, when it has something around its leg, it assumes that it won’t be able to break it.

We become creatures of habit. We do things this way because this is the way they are done. Never mind there are perfectly valid ways of doing these things that are different than the way we do things.

Sometimes, these ways are better. Sometimes, these are just different. Sometimes you don’t know if something is truly better or just different until you try to do something in a new way.

What do you mean, that sounds like foreshadowing?