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Back in my college days, a professor asked the class what it would take to totally shock them. I replied that it would take something beyond having a UFO land in my yard. That surprised him, he said it would take something as out of the ordinary as a UFO to shock me. No, I said, you misunderstand. I could handle the UFO. It would take something beyond that. He was a bit put off, but he wasn't a fan of Science Fiction.
I am. Science Fiction helps make you future proof. Things are less likely to sneak up on you and catch you by surprise. Aliens in the onion patch, piece of cake. Ghost walks out of the dark and join you at your campfire; tip your hat to him and say hello. Neighborhood kid builds a matter transporter in his garage. Spray it with a can of bug spray to kill any stray flies before you try it. Mutant Zombie Bikers? Outfit your friends with old Mosin–Nagant rifles for a few hundred bucks and take the high ground.
Hey, we've seen it all before -in Science Fiction.
We're not just goofing off reading escapist junk. Oh no, we are in training. The future is coming, and dog gone it, we are gonna be ready for it.
It's all about visualization. Athletes mentally train themselves by visualizing perfect performance. A golfer visualizes their swing. A quarterback visualizes that perfect throw. A hockey player visualizes that perfect illegal cross check to the teeth. Visualization is all about mental preparation. Science Fiction readers visualize outlandish possibilities. They are going to be ready for high weirdness and because they've envisioned it, they'll be good at dealing with it.
The subconscious mind reacts to remembered pain pretty much the same way it reacts to actual pain. It can't tell the difference. Imagined pain gets the same response too. Not just pain, but all the other emotions and feelings too. Your body will have physical responses to what you convince your subconscious mind is going on. When you read a good story that draws you deep into it, you are dragging your subconscious mind along for the ride. When the hero is wounded and down, you feel it, actually feel his pain. His triumphs are your triumphs. As far as your subconscious is concerned, a good book is as effective as Star Trek's holodeck.
Now think of all the crazy outlandish stuff you've read over the years. As far as your subconscious mind is concerned, it was all real. Do not be alarmed by this. You may think it a disadvantage to have all that strangeness programed into your deep inner being. Au contrair! It's an advantage. You've become desensitized to high weirdness. When real odd stuff happens in the real world, your mind goes "huh, I've seen this before." You don't freeze up. You deal with it. You may have even learned some specific ways of dealing with it. That's not as important as just being open to possibilities.
The future promises to be a heck of a lot different from the past. Are we heading to a technological singularity? Malthusian collapse? Alien invasion? Bioplague? Grey goo nanoteck run amok? Asteroid strike? Something totally beyond the reasonable stuff listed above? Whatever happens, you've got a leg up on the competition. You've visualized the possibilities. You've been there man!
Now I've got to go shoo that pesky UFO off my damn lawn.
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