Friday, February 26, 2010


Whenever anyone over the age of 12 says that they are bored, I answer, "I don't believe in bored". I find that this confuses most people and leads to a discussion. At first, the person defends themselves, pointing out the ways in which the present situation is not stimulating enough. I affirm that the person is experiencing some lack of stimulation, I just don't understand why they choose to be in that state. The person usually repeats how "boring" the situation is, and the reasons that he or she cannot escape the boring situation. They generally don't understand that they have the option to either figure out something to do or figure out how to just be. To say that you are bored is to say that the world around you is supposed to entertain you at all times, and that currently the world is not doing its job. I point out to the bored person that I am in the same situation with them, but I am not bored. Thus, it's not the situation itself, it's the person's perception of the situation. I have never really "won" this discussion with a bored person, but I have in effect taken them out of their boredom for the few minutes that we are talking about it.

Boredom is presented as almost the opposite of the state of "flow" in the famous chart by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. Here, boredom happens when you are engaged in a task that does not have a great deal of challenge or use your skills. I realize the improbability of always living in a state of flow, in which your skill level matches your challenge level and you enter a highly productive and creative state. However, I believe that it is your responsibility to entertain yourself.

Perhaps sometime when you think you might be getting bored you could let me know what you think about all of this.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Neighborhood Bakeries

I am in my second of seven weeks in Greenwich Village. Although I will always love Union Square, where I lived for six years, this neighborhood definitely ranks as one of my favorites in Manhattan. It has a true "old New York" feeling about it, with narrow streets, interesting front stoops and beautiful old brick buildings. Over the years I have often brought out of town visitors to the Village to visit the interesting shops and to have a cupcake at Magnolia Bakery. Magnolia is the only bakery I have ever been to that always has a line around the corner and requires a doorman to direct the foot traffic in and out of the busy establishment.

It's a good thing that I like The Village so much since it will be the place that I have stayed the longest in almost a year. The last time I lived somewhere for more than seven weeks was when I was in Wichita, KS for ten weeks to perform in the musical "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" last spring (and even that was broken up with trips to Minneapolis and to Oklahoma City). Kansas was a wonderful place to be for ten weeks. While Wichita was no Greenwich Village, it had a surprising number of interesting shops and restaurants. My favorite was The Donut Whole, which has plenty of seating, free wifi, live music, and a wide variety of donuts. If you ever go there, try their Pumpkin Spice Donut.

Apparently one of my requirements for a great neighborhood is a great bakery. I will have to keep that in mind as I consider where to go next.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Busiest Day of the Year

It's the busiest day of the year. Even though it's a special occasion, no one on the staff gets the day off. Special arrangements are made for record crowds. Although extra hours of operation have been added for the special occasion, it seems that everyone wants to attend at the same particular time. People arrive in their best clothes, accompanied by the people they love. Not enough seats are available so an extra section is opened up to make room for more people. Thematic decorations adorn every possible fixture. Special music is played for the occasion. The staff is provided with a catered meal for working on such an intense day.

All of these statements are true of working in a large church on Christmas Eve and working in a chocolate restaurant on Valentine's Day. And now I have done both.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fully Committed

I just returned from the ELCA Youth Workers' Convention in Charlotte, NC. This is an annual event for Lutheran youth workers with which I have been involved almost since its inception thirteen years ago. We meet in various cities to "renew, educate and connect" as they say in the mission statement. There is a definite community that has been built around this event so it always feels like a reunion and also a place to meet more like-minded people.

I am currently on the team that plans and executes the event. It is the most functional team that I work on. We are sixteen people who love to work and play together. We are based all over the United States and gather only twice a year, once to plan and once at the event itself. The rest of the year, we connect online and by phone and trust one another to do the work. It astounds me the number of details that come together into something that is greater than the sum of its parts. As an Urban Nomad, it works well for me to be on a strong team that is not tied to geography. I feel very connected to the team and communicate with some of them more often than some of my friends in the same city as me. Everyone is "fully committed." That term, "fully committed" took on another meaning when we arrived at the Westin a couple days before our event. Apparently "fully committed" is hotel-speak for "no more room at the inn." That means that if we needed extra rooms or meeting space, there was none to be had. At first, "fully committed" was a road block. Then we latched on to the term and became "fully committed" to making things work. And we did.
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