The Jetsons got it right. Clearly the 1962 animated sitcom epitomizes Einstein’s belief, “imagination is more important than knowledge.” It didn’t matter that the creators didn’t have the technology back then, or even that Bill Gates would eventually be quoted repeatedly (and perhaps mistakenly) as saying “640KB ought to be enough for anyone.” A part of me really believes that the Jetsons paved the way for technology of the future, simply by putting their ideas out there. The futuristic utopia takes place in 2062… a mere 47 years away from now and how many of their inventions have already been actualized? (We’ve even got flying cars!)This is the stuff that makes me so happy to be living in this world today. If you can imagine it, one day it will probably exist. I can remember a time back in the 90‘s when I was sitting in the bathtub, reading a book and I had the revelation that it might be nice to download at will any number of articles or books into one magazine. When I excitedly ran this idea past my boyfriend at the time, he shrugged it off, looking unimpressed. Then 2007 rolled around and Amazon introduced the Kindle. Oh how my many talents and foresights go unappreciated… alas, here I am many years later, awaiting royalties that will never come. I wonder if there will ever be a time when a mere thought can be copyrighted? Anyway, I digress. The Jetsons’ utopia is one in which work is reduced to the push of a few buttons, meals come in a pill, and everyone in general lives a more harmonious lifestyle. But I can’t remember if there was ever direct mention of emotion. So, I’ll give it a go on my own.
Here is my vision for the future, emotion regulation-wise: I foresee doctors recommending what I will call a bi-annual Emoticonvectional Readjustment Process (or ERP, for short) whereby clients will enter an isolation tank – not the epson saltwater variety of today, but a more futuristic one where you float sensory-deprived atop a gentle, coddling, magnetic field and a certified practitioner will pull your body through a heat generated mild electrical current using a fancy hula hoopy type of wand. With just one or two swoops of said wand, dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine levels will all be in check; left and right brain hemispheres will be in balance; and the hypothalamus, hippocampus, amygdala and the rest of the limbic system will all be fine tuned. For those who comply with recommendations, it will be as simple as getting your teeth cleaned. For those who like to procrastinate, temporary body aches and migraines may be indicated. All adjustments will be made according to government recommendations. And of course, there’s no telling where that will go. Hopefully it won’t be as scary as the Twilight Zone video (see below – season 5, episode 17 “Number 12 Looks Just Like You”) where all young men and women at the age of 19 are required to undergo a “transformation” to look and act beautiful like everyone else. In it, the protagonist, Marilyn, is attempting to forgo the transformation and cites a slew of reasons not to, including character and loving, caring connections with others. Her friend, Val, who has already transformed, tries to dissuade her:
Marilyn (in desperation): “Valerie…can’t you feel anything?”
Val: “Well, of course silly. I feel…I feel good. I always feel good. Life is pretty, life is fun. I am all and all is one!”
For now, we don’t have ERP or transformations, but we do still have character. And we do still have each other. Gurus and bodhisattvas have been showing us the way for centuries. I will leave you with my favorite quote from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love: “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don’t, you will leak away your innate contentment…”
Oh, one more thing – I doubt that I’ll be writing a sci-fi novel any time soon, so feel free to go ahead and use my idea for ERP. I just ask that you include me in the credits – and don’t forget to send royalties! And if you decide to create your own version of ERP, please send a visual and I’ll post it here.
Twilight Zone season 5, episode 17 “Number 12 Looks Just Like You”
Copyright 2014 © Rachel Braun, All rights reserved.
Rachel Braun, ATR-BC Art Therapist Philadelphia, PA
Specializing in art therapy groups for women who experience depression, anxiety and eating disorders.