Jack Baty

Director of Unspecified Services

The gravitational pull of Emacs

Trying to leave Emacs is like arguing with nature.

I want things to be simple and without distraction. I want to avoid futzing all the time. To this end, I often try to move away from using Emacs for everything. Emacs is not simple, no matter how hard I try to force it to be simple.

So I pull out the usual inventory of simple writing and note-taking apps, trying to make them fit. Telling myself that this is better for me.

I spend time actually using all those beautiful and simple apps. I love them, and the whole thing starts out with feelings of excitement and relief from the urge to tweak things in Emacs. Everything seems easier. My pinky is relieved. Futzing is reduced to nearly zero.

However, it's not long before I begin to miss the things I'd spent years building for myself in Emacs. I miss Org-mode. I miss Dired and Magit and Howm and Denote. I miss the ridiculously flexible and powerful export features. I miss using something that feels like it was made just for me. Something free and that I have complete control over.

I soon forget about all the time I'd wasted spent futzing with init.el or writing little lisp functions to do some silly and likely unnecessary thing that I love.

Then I'll find myself needing to open an old .org file. I launch Emacs, and I'm suddenly faced with my familiar, comfortable editor. After getting what I need from that .org file, I open my org-agenda just to see what I might have missed. Then I clean up my ~/Desktop folder quickly using Dired. You know, while I'm there.

It occurs to me that I might have been premature in moving away from Emacs 😆. I can feel it happening again: the return. I create a new org-journal entry, just for the hell of it. These entries usually begin with something like, "Uh oh! What I'm I even doing back here?!" It feels familiar. Feels like home.

One hardly notices the feeling of being sucked back into using Emacs. It just happens. It's like gravity. And you're simply there again.