I am an archaeologist of the future.
My methods are unorthodox. I do not dip my spade into sediment, don’t unearth what sands have buried, or calibrate the depth of the grave. I grasp instead at what the wind has not yet revealed, zephyrs from the next world. Stars are code I’m teaching myself to read. My skin is pelted with sound currents from our children’s children’s children’s children’s time.
Though we would scarcely recognize our progeny, generations hence. After the Era of Earth’s Emesis, when the planet spewed back all the poisons we had fed her, our descendants let go of the physical body. Like evacuating a burning building. The corpus proved to be no longer a practical vehicle and, besides, most of the pleasure-giving organs were long-deadened.
Now our clever heirs take form as columns of light. Emit a gentle glow of color as they wander their smoking, ruined world. Each produces a musical tone quite unlike any other. Whenever a group gathers, a symphony occurs.
They share a high degree of consensus that what they miss most are flowers. Although none of them has ever seen a flower. Still, the notion of blossoms, of petal and pistil, stamen and perianth, is kept alive in story and in myth. And in the almost daily festivals such as Feast of the Hyacinth and the Jasmine Frolic.
Sometimes, for amusement, our descendants will pool their energies to fashion some tool or utilitarian object. If each concentrates deeply, their thought forms can produce this specific concrete item, just as they’ve imagined it. They do this not because such objects are needed, but because there is nostalgia for materiality, for the things about which they or their parents once heard. Evidence of a tangible world.
They can make themselves giddy with their efforts to conceptualize a teacup, having neither herbs to brew nor lips to drink with. One conjures a spinning ball of light; another adds a straw of infinite length so god may drink from their vessel. “No, no,” hums a third, disgusted, “there must be a saucer,” and envisions a kind of ladle with which to spoon sauce. Whatever that might be. The words have survived long past their referents.
When they have exhausted all possible embellishments they abandon their creations, having no use for them and no place for storage. On rare occasions, I can snatch such an item from the ether, and I labor to catalogue and preserve it as best I can. Still, it is a thankless exercise; the future cannot remain palpable to those who live beyond its borders.
People question why I labor in this way. Always we have been taught to learn from the past. To dig up, sift through, to mine the wreckage from which we’ve come.
I say instead, learn from the future. Set your sights on what’s ahead. Project into your possibilities and learn from this.