A few old timers will probably recognize the name Hedy Lamarr, who was considered “the most beautiful woman in the world” during her time in the 1940s and 1950s.
But I just discovered that she was more than just a beautiful face. She also possessed a beautiful mind, the brilliant mind of a scientist. Her invention called free hopping technology at the height of World War II helped pave the way for today’s Wi-Fi and Blue Tooth Technology, which we now take for granted in our digital age. Beauty and brains—what a combination, what a legacy.
Who says you can’t be several amazing beings in one? This is why I admire the ingenuity of a spork, which is a spoon and fork fused into one utensil.
Held with just one hand, this versatile and flexible utensil enables you both to scoop up soup, rice, small food bits and morsels, sauce and then skewer bigger pieces of food as well as salad and leafy vegetables.
I thought that the spork is a recent idea. But it turns out it has a long history. In the 1800s, people first combined the spoon and fork to make digging into ice cream easier. KFC helped popularize sporks in the early 1970s when it adopted them as the utensil of choice in all Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants.
Originally, of course, sporks were made of silver, not plastic like what we now use in some fast food outlets, which easily breaks. That’s probably why some people hate using it. I still find it very handy even if it has its limitations.
While contemplating on the merits of the spork, I asked myself, why can’t we be more spork-like? Why be content and stagnate with being just a uni-purposed person? Or a one-trick pony?
There’s always another useful side in everyone that’s underdeveloped or unexplored. It could be something you thought you didn’t have in you—a hidden talent, an interest or ability you’ve set aside because you were fully focused on other plans or preoccupations.
In the post pandemic world, persons with multi-capabilities are now regarded as rising in value. The future belongs to those who are not stuck to a single area of knowledge and skill, but are exploring different opportunities by taking advantage of the circumstances offered by new technology.
One reason why you need to be spork-like is multi-tasking, which is the ability to deal with more than one task at the same time.
It seems that multi-tasking is now becoming a way of life. Most companies nowadays have this qualification in their wanted ads: “the job requires a person who is good at multitasking.” Their rationale is: better to get just one multi-skilled person who can do the tasks of two or three persons.
The growing practice of task outsourcing is one reason why being multi-skilled and multi-talented can get you more jobs. In fact, the new buzzword is “fractional work employment.” This is an arrangement whereby a person works part-time for several different employers during the week. A fractional employee offers the same kind of work as a full-time employee but on a shortened timeline. The benefit to the employer is he saves money by not having to pay overtime, social security and other added expenses, not to mention big office rentals.
During the pre-outsourcing days, “freelancer” was how we used to call a self-employed individual offering specialized services to clients. It was a struggle because employers would treat freelancers as job mendicants and would only use them to scrimp on their budgets. A young freelancer would euphemistically describe himself as “in between jobs.” Friends would call them “free lunch-ers” behind their backs because they would drop by the office during noon break to mooch lunch and a little money. Older freelancers would describe themselves as doing consulting jobs.
Today, seasoned and reliable freelancers, now called fractional employees, are in demand. Take my case, for example. Notwithstanding my advanced age, people still like to get me as a fractional hiree on a monthly retainer or per project basis.
Some of my employers consider me as an idea factory and an all-around swiss knife for various writing assignments. I’m doing all the work at home using my old Mac mini. Of course, from time to time I have a physical meeting with my “employers” because some of them, by force of habit, still prefer to talk with someone physically present.
I can do gigs, free-lancing, fractional work because I keep expanding my creative abilities and knowhow and I’m having fun. It keeps my senior mind agile and alert and drives me to be constantly in touch with current trends.
In the spirit of developing myself into a better spork-like person, I am now exploring other interests to help hidden talents to emerge. I am trying to enhance my visual design quotient by using my smart phone to take pictures of ordinary objects, practicing the art of contemplative photography. I’m also trying to coax my green thumb to emerge by going into composting, burying heaps of organic wastes from our kitchen in our back yard, hoping to get into planting as the next step.
But even if you’re retired or no longer interested in seeking employment, being spork-like can make you useful in many ways. Spork-like persons enrich their families and their friends with their diverse knowledge and multiple abilities. They can be intellectual bridges between groups of people with specialized knowledge and practices, such as doctors and musicians in one room. In organizations or communities, they can function as generators of new ideas because their minds are not confined in a box. Best of all, they have a greater willingness and capacity to learn and change even late in life.
Be a spork and be a spark that not only enlivens up work or conversations in your daily life but perhaps even help ignite a new future like Hedy Lamarr.