You misunderstand. I wasn’t dying.
I had no horrible, incurable disease, and there was certainly no tearful conversation with my physician about how this one, desperate act was my only chance of survival. My health was, overall, quite good.
Not great, mind. I smoked too much, drank too much and had no doubts that these things were taking their toll on me. But good at least. At the time of my cryogenic freezing, I was in perfectly acceptable health. Although, if medical breakthroughs have since been made that might improve my body in significant ways, that’d be a conversation I’d be happy to have. However, it’s not why I froze myself.
To understand that, you have to understand something about my psychology and, perhaps more importantly, about the early twenty-first century. You see, at the time, a sort of malaise had fallen over the industrialized world, and the prevailing attitude, culturally and politically, was that humankind’s best days were behind it. An ugly school of thought had developed in the last years of the previous century whereby it was suggested that humans, as a species, had no great accomplishments left ahead of them. The logic followed that, without great things for a society to strive for, there was no need for it to exist, and we could go back to an every man for himself sort of existence where we looked out for our own insulated group and let the rest of the world go to hell. The money raised by the Earth’s governments, it was suggested, should be returned in the form of tax credits and we, who once collectively comprised mighty nations, should go our separate ways. But it wasn’t just governments, private companies were suggesting there was no middle class left worth marketing products toward, a generation thought they’d grow up worse off than their parents, half the world seemed to think the Rapture was coming and the other that Global Warming would kill us all. I put up with this as long as I could, but when NASA announced that it would be mounting no further manned space flights I could no longer push through.
Even NASA? Even NASA? No, I couldn’t bear the thought.
Which brings us in a roundabout way to the thing you have to understand about my psychology. Well, two things really. The first is that I believed, truly and fully, in the power of individuals to come together and solve our collective problems collectively, and I believed that, with enough minds working together, there was nothing that couldn’t be resolved. An opinion that left me quite out of step with my times as the people around me surrendered to what they felt they were powerless to change. However; the other thing you need to know about me is that, in spite of the contempt I felt for my contemporaries, I was, am and will always remain at my core an optimistic futurist. Humankind can triumph through our will and our wits, and given enough time I know in my heart we always will. So while I was dejected at the persons I saw on the television night after night attempting to gently usher my species into it’s retirement, I had the greatest of faith in people.
“We may,” I thought, “think we’re done now, but we’re not, and it’s only a matter of time before we figure that out.”
However, time wasn’t something I had in indefinite amount of, and no large-scale coming together of the peoples of all nations seemed on the immediate horizon. I am, as I said, acceptably healthy, but I do drink, I do smoke and my family is prone to sudden unexpected illnesses. Humanity would persevere, to be sure, but there was no guarantee I’d be around to see it.
And I would so hate to miss it.
So when the university put out an add looking for test subjects for a cryogenics project, it seemed just the thing!
The doctors in charge walked me through their lab, showing me the chamber they intended to freeze their subjects in and the apparatus they’d be using to monitor the suspended body. Once the process was deemed safe, they commented, only the richest people in the world would be able to afford it, but until then it was up to people like me to risk their lives as the bugs were hammered out of the process. This frequently tended to be the case back then. Oh, they were mainly just attempting two or three day freezes at the time, but it didn’t take much to convince them I was dying of something with an imposingly long Latin name, and therefore the perfect test subject for a longer term freeze. Put me in for two hundred years, I argued, and any side effects the mega-wealthy users of this new technology might experience will have years worth of notice via the observation of my own case.
It wasn’t an airtight lie, but come on. Science classes were teaching young-earth creationism in some areas of the country, you couldn’t expect much of their graduate students.
So they performed their tests, a friend of mine in the medical faculty faked a write-up of my fictitious disease, and they put me under. And for two hundred years I’ve been sleeping, not waiting for a cure for my own body but, as I said, attempting to outlast my era, waiting for human civilization to find cures for it’s own ails. And while I freely admit sticking around and trying to personally make the world a better place would have been the braver, better option, I couldn’t live with the thought that I might not see that better world when it finally came.
After spending more than thirty years loving the idea of tomorrow, I had to meet it in person, if only to find out if my optimism was well-placed.
So in answer to your question, no. No, I don’t think I will need counseling to help me come to terms with the fact that I’m alone in a strange new future. I’m reasonably certain I’m going to find the strange new future awesome, and if not I’ll freeze myself back up and try again in another two hundred years.
So, tell me, with the time I’ve been gone from the world, what have we done? Go ahead, impress me…