Next, Next, Next Places

I sent this into the NYT in response to a piece in last Sunday’s World in Review section.

Our obsession with what’s next, Next, Next (Adam Bryant’s “iSee Into The Future, Therefore iAm” – July 1, ’07) provides insight, critique, and wonderment about how we are and seem to live. “New is an observable fact, to deem something ‘next’ suggests special insight.”

The reference is to our current obsession with the iPhone and every next gadget and next idea, and next Next. The notion of ‘new’ has given way to ‘next in the new movie, “Next” (Nicholas Cage), in Newsweek’s annual “Who’s Next” for who’s hot, and Time magazine’s, “What’s Next,” – extended to New York magazine’s “The Next Next Things. We seem to be neglecting or forgetting the present, as we obsess about the future – but always in some pretty immediate senses.

1964 World's Fair, Peace Through Understanding, photo by Daniel Latorre

This is not all bad, interesting to be looking out and ahead, more than dwelling on every today. Questions of where we are, how we got here, with some vague sense of a longer future, filled-in day by day by looking for what’s next…create a mind-full of nextness.

But we don’t seem to be spending much time in dwelling on ourselves and who we might want to be – next. Maybe this is about the intensity of these times – politics, money and celebrity, a sense that money floats about our heads, a bit like the constantly thickening atmosphere of global warming. Maybe it’s about the impending sense of retirement and living long, long without too much sense of what to do, or how to be.

For ourselves, I suggest it’s about time to think about our own “Next Places” – my book of meditations on “seeing yourself, and seeking your future.” In a time like this, it’s vital to rethink ourselves, to ask who we are, and hope to be – next. In this sense, next is possibly as filling as the idea of the iPhone, and perhaps fulfilling in the contexts of our longest lives. To life!