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What Now? (Afterword)

December 27, 2009

Every futurist has a master plan to change the world for the better. This book is part of mine. This book is a building block I am providing toward the creation of a better future. It’s a training tool to help you think like a futurist. The world needs better futurists—and more of them. You can help.

The future is the realm of the Gardener. The more long term one thinks and behaves, the more one functions as a Gardener. Thinking about the future, enabling it, and planning for it are always Gardener endeavors. The future cannot be “won” for any one party, group, nation, or religion. Instead, the longer term we think, the more we realize we can only enable good futures to emerge by building robust capacities for people to solve problems we cannot yet foresee. My hope is that this book creates a future-enabling capacity in people’s minds by drawing the distinction between dualistic and problem-solving orientations in a way that produces a “meme” (a contagious idea) or a “metaidea” (an idea that enables other ideas to arise).

Other futurists work to build capacities to create better futures. For example, there’s a group of futurists that are building a clock that will keep time for 10,000 years, what they call “The Clock of the Long Now.” Figuratively speaking, the Clock will “tick” once per year, “bong” once per century, and the “cuckoo” will only come out once every millennium. (You can learn more at or in Stewart Brand’s superb book The Clock of the Long Now: Time and Responsibility, Basic Books, 1999.)

One of the project’s members has joked that he wants the group to sell wristwatch-sized versions of the Clock because the Clock changes how you think about the passage of time. He says he plans to wear the Clock wristwatch on the opposite hand from his normal wristwatch. Put simply, on your normal wristwatch, time belongs to you—you decide what you will do with this hour, this day, this year. On the Clock wristwatch, however, you belong to time. And that realization sparks a more profound life question, What will be my contribution to the 10,000 years? In this book’s parlance, the question is What will be my contribution to the Garden?

What’s yours?

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