One of the last people I entered as I was finalizing the Odyssey Edition for manufacture was Sir Nicholas Wotton. Almost six hundred years ago, in 1407, he was sheriff of London.
As I’m keying in the digital pathways to real people from the past, from my present day perspective, I often wonder about many of the individuals. What did life look like to them? Did they stop to marvel at sunsets? Did they wonder about how their life would fit into the overall unfolding of history? What did they daydream about? Did they imagine that centuries into the future they would have millions of descendants, and that some of those descendants would be famous and do things that would be known by all for many more centuries?
On a slow day at the sheriff’s office, could Sir Nicholas have been leaning back in his sheriff’s chair with his feet on the desk, daydreaming about what his descendants might be doing centuries into the future? I’ll bet that no matter how well developed his imagination skills were, it would have seemed way too far fetched for him to imagine what would actually happen.
Maybe he might have daydreamed that some of his descendants would become kings and queens of Great Britain (even though Great Britain did not exist then). Amazing things do happen (and in his case, did happen), and this would have been within the realm of possibility. But he would have probably have kept this one to himself, as most people would have ridiculed him for such preposterous thoughts.
Fifteen years before Sir Nicholas became sheriff, Christopher Columbus “discovered” the New World. How could Sir Nicholas have possibly imagined that four centuries into the future one of his descendants would lead the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition across the entire wilderness of this New World to the Pacific Ocean?
Although I do not know if I am one of Sir Nicholas’ descendants, considering my number of ancestral dead ends and the general patterns of ancestral connections, it is quite possible that I am. In either case, how could he have possibly imagined that in 2001 I would be writing about him from an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and a few minutes later others at various points on the planet would be reading about him?
What about Sir Nicholas’ counterparts today? Do you ever daydream about what your descendants might be doing centuries into the future? Governor of Mars? Returning from a five-year away mission exploring the Delta Quadrant?
If the history of human genetic migration continues as it has for many centuries, anyone leaving grandchildren today will quite likely have many millions of living descendants somewhere six centuries from now. The law of averages says that some will be famous, some will be infamous, and most will be somewhere in between. What amazing things might some of your famous descendants accomplish?