Given time and inspiration, what can be accomplished in 100 years?
Just over a century ago, the must-have vehicle was the initial Model T as it rolled forth on rickety spoked wheels for the first time from the Ford assembly line. The traffic signal, invented by Garrett A. Morgan, flashed for the first time 15 years later. (Most likely, although lacking tangible proof, tailgaters, gridlock, and rush hour started when the second automobile hit the streets.)
The radio tuner, allowing listeners to select different stations, transmitted its debut in 1916. Short wave tagged along three years hence. John Logie Baird switched on mechanical televisions, predecessor to modern TVs, in 1925. Frequency modulation (“FM”) first broadcast in 1933 and the earliest color TV flickered to life in 1940. The first cellular phone rang in 1979 (probably in a movie theater).
Medicine marched onward. Sir Frederick Grant Banting invented insulin (1922). Alexander Fleming devised penicillin (1928). Wilson Greatbatch brought life to the internal pacemaker in 1959, followed by Robert Jarvik’s artificial heart in 1978.
Even toys changed. Silly putty bounced and the slinky slinked on to the scene, both in 1943. Mr. Potato Head was appealing in 1952. Cabbage patch kids flew from shelves in 1983.
So much can happen in the passing of a century. Yet, what can one mortal do in only one lifespan?
In that interval, a child will rise up to walk, lie on her back atop grass-blanketed hillsides, and envision cloud animals drifting whitely along blue sun-drenched summer skies. She will, over the years, laugh joyfully as she matures with her friends; and at other times, weep sadly, seeking comfort from daddy over the loss of her pet. The parade of time will bring forth the life-affirming blush of fresh love and the crushing pain of loss. As seasons are swallowed by years, she will meet immeasurable people. Some will walk along her for a day, others for decades. She will travel far, encounter miraculous sights, and paint from a palette of emotions, inspiration to outrage. From birth through her finishing days, she shall crawl, walk high, and lay to rest.
Given nothing more than those skills and talents woven into our fabric, in one’s brief time of light, he or she can use those days to bring forth great beauty on a thousand canvases. She can put into words a collection of profundity inspiring future generations, changing yet unmade paths, shaping worlds not yet borne. If so chosen, he can lead millions to correct injustice, lift up the poor, or battle back ravaging diseases. One soul, one life, so much can be accomplished; so many choices.
Can I do anything in only one year?
Three hundred sixty five days from now, binding relationships can be created, knowledge amassed, literature absorbed, sicknesses healed, children taught, elderly supported, or habits changed. In “only” one voyage around the sun, all this — and more — can be achieved.
What can you do in this brief moment?
Anything you dream of. Don’t wait. Time is passing.