2024 eclipse timelapse by Ashley Lian

In the twisted labyrinth...

of our tech-driven existence, I find myself ensnared in a dwindling dance with the machines. It's a peculiar tango where the rhythm of genuine creativity is drowned out by the deafening beats of instant gratification. The world, it seems, is hell-bent on dropping solutions down from the heavens like mana. Break a laptop, and lo and behold, a click summons a pristine replacement to your doorstep. Want to unleash your thoughts on the digital canvas of the internet? A legion of companies stands ready to offer you templates and a friendly editing interface—all for a modest monthly fee.

But in endless rat race of enchanted shortcuts, the magic of creation is lost. The beauty of crafting something uniquely your own, birthed from the depths of your passion and toil, is overshadowed by the allure of instant fixes.

Sure, none of us can conjure a laptop from the void, and building an entire website from scratch is a Herculean feat. Yet, even in this age of immediacy, opportunities to weave threads of innovation and creation into the fabric of our lives can still be uncovered. Take my battered 2017 MacBook, for instance. It has weathered years of wear and tear, its battery gasping for breath with a measly 20-minute lifespan. The easy route would have been to consign it to the technological graveyard, drop a couple of grand, and welcome a shiny new successor without budging from the couch. But in doing so, I would lose my battle-scarred compatriot, adorned with all its stickers, and deep scratches in the screen. Instead, I opted for a different path. I entrusted my ailing companion to a little two-person electronics repair den just a short drive away. A mere day later, my metal friend was resurrected. Functionally, it might as well have rolled off the assembly line yesterday. A rejuvenated existence for a hundred bucks.

And then there's the saga of my digital garden—a realm I tend to on the vast landscape of the internet. For a year, I've sown the seeds and watched them grow, hosting my creation on Github, free from the clutches of exclusive services and fancy animations. Yet, simplicity can be a double-edged sword. The tedium of manually tweaking 80 files to update the copyright year every New Year's Day became a looming specter. But I knew better than to give in. Rather than succumb to the siren song of convenience, I took matters into my own hands. I wrote my own Python-powered website manager, meticulously crafted over two and a half weeks, a labor of love totaling some 20 hours. It's a bastion of autonomy, nestled in the silicon heart of my resurrected laptop, standing as a testament to ownership and creation.

Amidst the cacophony of our disposable culture, I implore you to uncover hidden joys. Extend the lifespan of your possessions, find the beauty in crafting something of your own, unpolished and genuine. These creations will be janky, buggy, and unkempt, but they are unequivocally yours—through and through.