The power of play

HANALEI — Reverend Zander likes to play. It is, he says, a “universal expression of joy, builder of brains and the great healer of the soul.”

Welcome to the world of Hackido!

It’s a small, soft round ball made of hemp fabric on the outside and hemp seeds inside. Take one, two, three of four of them, and, well, you’ve got the power to change your life in your hands, Zander says.

And the lives of others, too. Perhaps the world.

“It’s about play. It’s a spiritual thing for me,” he says. “I consider play our sole purpose. It’s universal.”

“You can do this anytime, anywhere, any place,” he continues as he juggles three Hackido! balls. “It always changes up the mood. I don’t care what kind of a situation you’re in. If you pull out three hacks and start juggling, people go, ‘Oh, there’s a juggler, everything is cool.’”

Hackido! is Zander’s creation. The Kauai man makes, markets and sells them. Hackido! is different from Hackey Sack, a trademark name owned by the company, Wham-o. He believes his version is a more active, more involving, more constant movement, more about flow and fun.

Let’s allow him to explain:

“Traditionally, Hacky Sack, or Footbag, is usually played with shoes on. A lot of time is spent developing what is called the ‘stall.’ This is where the sack stops for a time on your body, usually the shoe. Well, this is fine and dandy, unless you don’t like to wear shoes much, which I don’t. I also prefer to kick it on sand or grass where shoes are more of an inconvenience. Technically speaking, we should go barefoot more often as it exercises all kinds of muscles all over the body and spine that wearing shoes prevents. Also, when our bare feet touch the ground we connect more with the earth and receive lots of energy stuff that again, shoes prevent. If you’re into that kinda thing, which I am.”

Zander is high-energy, friendly guy who likes meeting and talking to new people. And, of course, teaching them about this relaxing, entertaining activity that he calls, “the perfect game.”

It more than kicking and throwing and keeping something in the air. It’s even about more than building dexterity and balance and engaging the mind.

It’s very core is more about peace and breaking down social barriers and encouraging cooperation. The possibilities, he says, are at your finger tips.

Really.

“Everyone leaves a hack circle feeling good,” he said.

It was years ago a friend gave him a hack.

“Here, keep this in your pocket,” he said.

Zander did.

That small offering, Zander said, changed his life.

“I was able to go to any country in the world, start playing at some park somewhere just go for it,” he said. “Somebody cool would jump up and start playing with me. I immediately had a friend.”

He said he has been in places where he was stranger, and brought out a few hacks and starting playing. It wasn’t long before he met people who offered him a place to stay or to come over for dinner.

“This is the difference,” he said, holding up the soft, green, white and black hack.

He says making a hack is relatively easy and once you make one, two is easier, then on to three when the wonderful world of juggling can become part of your repertoire. Next, you will become what he calls an “Ambassador of Play.” That’s why he has given away hundreds of hacks.

Zander quotes the philosopher Plato to make his point: “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

That is absolutely true Zander said.

The world, he believes, is too serious. He wants to see everyone take “the path of Hackido” and become more playful, in actions and words.

“You learn how to know somebody just from the way they play with people,” he said. “And this is the ultimate play tool.”

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