Hacks are all over the place.
And, the hack has changed significantly.
In my earliest days, Hack meant one of two things. You were coughing, or expelling phlegm from you lungs. Berke Breathed, the superior cartoonist of Bloom County, often gave us a picture of Bill the Cat, hacking.
Or, you were chopping wood, with an axe or some such deal.
That was a hack.
Then computers came around to the public sector. In a very big way. And soon we had cyber-digital hackers. Those far-away-fiends who would break into our computers and steal our lives right from under our noses. Those noses, which were pressed up against the screens of our computers.
That was a hack.
Now there is an entire newly found generation of hacks. We see them everywhere on all the lines of Social Media. They are on Television. And some nights, they are even in my dreams.
Last night, honest to goodness, I was trying to find a hack to start an airplane engine. A clandestine group of us were escaping from a bigger something. Which lurked. In my forty winks.
But those hacks can suck us right in. They show us 900 uses for a paper clip. Or, how to cut onions, tomatoes and avocados like we never have before. Use a rubber band to keep a door from latching. Put a dustpan in your sink to fill a bucket that won’t fit in that sink. Use a fork to hang a picture.
Most of the time, the hacks are marvelously creative. We see it, and we say, “All this time! Why didn’t I think of that?” Yeah, well. We didn’t think of it because the way we were doing it before worked just fine. Our lives were not being ultimately damaged because we didn’t stick our iPhones in a toilet paper roll to make a groovy speaker. Our days ticked along neatly before we used a hanging-shoe-rack to store our cleaning supplies.
The thing about the hacks, the most of them, is that the shortcut is nifty, but highly unnecessary. Take for instance the one where you put your pancake batter in an old ketchup squeeze bottle, for easy pancake-ish creations. While it looks very nice in theory, a LOT of things have to happen before you get to the Magic Castle. You must completely cleanse the old ketchup bottle. Then, once you have already dirtied a bowl to mix your batter, you must find a way to pour that batter into the small opening at the top of the ketchup bottle. Probably with some kind of funnel, if you have one. If not, you have to create a funneling process. More dirty dishes. Most of this requires two people, and a big whopping mess on the counter. By the time you have laboriously poured the batter into the bottle, you could have been completely done eating your pancakes if you had made them the old way. You know, pouring the batter into the skillet, one pancake at a time.
The other day I read a hack claiming to make you read faster. It turns out, it was an app, for the iPhone, that would speed up the digital “reading” or a book 5 times. Yes, you could get through the book five times faster by listening to speedy voice.
It made me sad. I guess someone might need this if they had to read large texts about some ungodly boring subject. Or phonebooks. But who would want to read anything else this way? A novel? A self-help book? A historical account?
We are living in a sped-up-world. The shorter path. The faster route. The breakneck pace. Yet. You know. Sometimes, it is better to go slow. I am learning this myself, because I am about as Type A as they come. I am trying to slow down. Because, it is true. When we rush right through a minute to get to the next one, we’ve missed the minute.
We missed noticing, that truly precious minute.
And the thing of it is, we only get so many. And that. Cannot be hacked.
“It’s life that matters, nothing but life—the process of discovering, the everlasting and perpetual process, not the discovery itself, at all.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot
“The seeker embarks on a journey to find what he wants and discovers, along the way, what he needs.”
― Wally Lamb, The Hour I First Believed
“While you are walking, smile and be in the here and now, and you will transform that place into paradise.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh