Do you remember The Empire Strikes Back? Do you remember how crazy people were about that movie? Do you remember the toys we had - the action figures and the playsets? The T-shirts and the bedsheets? Do you remember having nightmares after seeing Han Solo frozen in a block of carbonite?
Maybe not. Maybe you weren't five years old at the time. Maybe you were too old to care, or too young to notice. Maybe you hadn't even been born yet.
Do you remember when life was divided between MTV and the local arcade? Do you remember watching Duran Duran and Family Ties? Do you remember spending hours playing Super Mario Brothers? Do you remember the sound of the arcades? The clicking of joysticks and the flashing of lights?
Maybe not. Maybe you weren't a boy like I was. Maybe you didn't like rock music, or your parents wouldn't let you watch MTV. Maybe you thought arcades were too noisy, and arcade games a waste of money.
Do you remember that age between comic books and girlfriends? Do you remember Desert Storm? Do you remember when the Internet was new? Do you remember when cassette tapes gave way to CDs? Do you remember when none of your friends had cellular phones?
Maybe not. Maybe you were a girl, and never cared about comic books. Maybe you didn't care about technology either. Maybe you still don't have a cellular phone.
Do you remember when Grunge hit the airwaves, and everything from Seattle was suddenly cool? Do you remember the first time you bought a personal computer? Do you remember a time when people worried more about the ozone layer than about global warming? Do you remember going to college?
Maybe not. Maybe you grew up in another country. Maybe Grunge was never your cup of tea. Maybe you were never that concerned about the ozone layer. Maybe you never went to college. Maybe you just started college, and it's too early to remember going there.
Do you remember 9/11? Do you remember seeing it on TV? Do you remember the hysteria? Do you remember all the worry over the Y2K "crisis," and the relief when this "crisis" was averted? Do you remember Taichung before the Science Park? Do you remember the 9/21 Earthquake? Do you remember Taipei before the MRT?
Maybe not. Maybe you are too young to remember 9/11. Maybe you never saw it on TV. Maybe you were just a baby in 2000, so the Y2K "crisis" was before your time. Maybe you've never been to Taiwan. Maybe you are reading this and wondering what an MRT is.
Do you remember when your second daughter was born? Do you remember sitting in the hospital waiting room, anxious and yet strangely happy? Do you remember talking to your wife's grandmother on the phone, and not realizing that it would be the last time you ever spoke to her? Do you remember driving down to Tiger City?
Maybe not. Maybe you've never been married. Maybe you've never been a parent. Maybe you are single and happy to be so. Maybe you are a woman, or you are gay. Maybe you don't like Tiger City.
Do you remember that summer trip back to Seattle? Do you remember how your daughters loved the waterfront? Do you remember eating fish and chips? Do you remember the camping trips in Eastern Washington, and the car speeding through the mountains? Do you remember your mother, so happy to see her grandchildren?
Maybe not. Maybe you were in Thailand, Cambodia, or Taiwan. Maybe you were in Canada, Mexico, or Brazil. Maybe you were in a place that even you can't remember, doing something forgettable.
Do you remember 2015? Of course not, because it hasn't happened yet. Just be careful not to blink, or you'll miss it. All of the people, places, and things listed above seem like they happened yesterday, and here I am so many years later, wondering how 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 35 years passed me by.
I think you should enjoy your youth, if you are young. You have many memories yet to make. I think you should enjoy your old age, if you are old. You have many memories to call your own. The things we remember are the things that make us who we are, and they are not to be forgotten.
Photo Gallery 8
The Near Future in the Present Tense
A Boat and Many Oysters 在台南坐船及吃牡蠣的旅程 (中)