Remember Y2K? I was 35. As a child and young man, I would say, “In the year 2000, I’ll be 35!” Which of course seemed ancient, and now seems like the beginning of my adulthood.
My concept of “The Year 2000” began to take shape when my mom took my brother and me to the drive-in to see 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968. I was three then, so this is one of my earliest memories. It is an intense one. The film alternately fascinated and terrified me.
Decades later, as a new parent, and a teacher of three-year-olds, I would discover this is the period when children begin to grasp linear time – concepts of “tomorrow,” “yesterday,” “next month,” “Christmas/summer is only x days away,” and “The Year 2000.” Prior to this stage, tots are in a timeless zone, as in dreams.
After that drive-in, I became enamored of science fiction. Star Trek in particular. Futurism. Star Wars hit the summer I was twelve. It rearranged my molecules. This was my “Beatles on Ed Sullivan” experience, spiritual.
In those years, my prefrontal cortex – the section of the brain that perceives time, makes plans, builds civilizations – was increasingly abuzz. I constantly cast my thoughts into the future. As happens with most humans, this area went offline when hormones hit, but re-booted when the dust cleared.
The Year 2000 loomed ever closer. What would it bring? Flying cars, surely. Jetpacks! Certainly space stations orbiting Earth, and colonies on the moon, and Mars. A cure for cancer. Moving sidewalks like in The Jetsons. And robots both helpful and nefarious, even androids who could pass for human!
In my teens and twenties, I began to cross paths with people – usually young women – who introduced me to the tarot, runes, I-Ching, astrology, and other methods by which one could perhaps see more deeply into the present, and more clearly into the future. Naturally, I was all in. One beloved Wiccan informed me that in The Year 2000 I would be in the thick of my Saturn Return period. I.e., when Saturn returns to the place in the heavens where it was at one’s birth.
“That’s when you become fully who you are,” she said. “In your early and mid thirties. Like when Jesus came back from the desert to teach; like when Buddha attained enlightenment.”
“Christ was crucified, though,” I said. “Age thirty-three.”
“Don’t be so negative. I can see it. That’s when you become you.”
It appears my Wiccan friend was right. While we didn’t get our flying cars, jetpacks, moon colonies, cancer cure, or humanoid androids, I did, in fact, bloom.
I became a father in 1998 – just shy of thirty-two – and by The Year 2000 I was a New Yorker watching the ball drop on a laptop with my wife and toddler son in a weekend cabin in the Catskills. My main job from 1998 until 2002 was caring for my son while his mother worked. Anyone who knows me – actually knows me – will correctly say this was the most important thing that ever happened to me, a pivotal event from which all else has come.
In The Year 2000, after many years of being a sideman musician, I released my first album. It did well, and opened doors. Soon thereafter, at the behest of my young son, I began honing my storytelling skills, which I would need and use – like now – for the unforeseen seismic changes: smartphones, Internet, social media. None of which were predicted by divination, astrology, or any sci-fi I recall.
Unforeseen or not, I’m here for it. And with a humility that did not exist before my Saturn Return in The Year 2000. I know now that the future, regardless of prognostication, is unwritten.