Learned a new term yesterday – “lifehack” – meaning a trick, or a shortcut to simplify tasks. There are over 20 million results when I googled that term. The concept is not new. I remember getting books for Christmas full of fix it solutions. There are now entire websites devoted to new ideas.
But I like the term lifehack … or lifehacker. Makes me think of the kind of days we aim for around here. Get up – see what needs doing – find a way to do those things with what we have around home. Makes me aware of the weather lifehacks we’ve come to know. Like those Grosbeaks hanging around here this week. Harbingers of snow.
I think the farmers I’ve come to know over these past few years are some of the most talented lifehackers. Often if you get to wander the back forty of a family farm you will find old appliances, old vehicles, a metal pile, a wood pile, a shed full of things that might be useful another time. IF things get thrown away it is only after some serious contemplation … or a need for the space.
Seems that most of the really great lifehacks – require some slow time for pondering. Slow time doesn’t mean wasted time. There is a farmer who lives just down the road from us who raises championship exhibition poultry. I happen to know he is a very patient man – as he put up with me for many months as I fell totally in love with his donkey – who became my buddy Paco. While I was haunting his fields I noticed how slowly he walked. He walked slowly between his coops. He walked slowly among his sheep. He walked slowly when doing his chores. I was still on fastforwardspeed as I was balancing teaching with spending time each evening with Paco. I noticed this about him. I watched him. And I came to see how moving like this made him part of the flock of sheep, less threatening to his poultry. He eased in and out of their spaces. As I followed Paco on walks through the fields I found myself slowing down. Those slow walks were vital to my sanity in those busy years. And now, working with our jennies and with the Guineas I know how important that slow movement is. Important to their brains … and mine. Although today’s life hack involved a new construction in the front paddock. My most important retirement life hack has been learning to appreciate a slower pace.
I wish for our next generation that they could have a slower pace of life. I feel like we’ve sped up too much of our everyday lives. Technology has often meant that people can and are expected to accomplish more with less – less resources, less staff, less time … which makes for a fastforwardworkpace. That fastforwardworkpace begins to spread out. People only have time for a fast food lunch. Telephone conversations take up too much time. They are replaced with short emails. Newspapers take too much time to read – they morph into news tweets. Shorter, briefer, faster …
We need a new motto … longer, simpler, slower. Not just for us ‘old folks’. The young ones need that … so they can become old folks. At this pace I’m afraid they won’t get there. And, you know, here is exceptionally good.