To attach too much utility to fun is to fundamentally misunderstand fun. True fun always has an element of nonfunctionality to it. That is, the most real fun is fun because there’s no good reason to do it.
Perhaps there is something you could do before reading this.
My street in Brooklyn is the main pedestrian approach to the ironically misnamed Harmony Playground, a destination for the loudest and most histrionic of the neighborhood’s children.
I never worried much about the hazards of the Information Age until my 9-year-old son started beating me at video games.
More than a century ago, an Irish economist named Francis Edgeworth imagined a futuristic device that would measure happiness.
Confession is supposed to be good for the soul, a redemptive change of heart. Public disclosure has also become a hot act in pop culture.
Each year around this time, during the run-up to Ash Wednesday, I go to Mass with Binx Bolling, the philosopher-rake who narrates Walker Percy’s 1961 novel, The Moviegoer.
Around the time my son turned 3, he developed a knack for delivering brusque commands. One of his favorites was “Go away,” and it was usually directed at me. He made a good dictator. Ordering me out of his presence, he would marshal such imperious body language—a Mussolini in Toughskins—that I almost found myself obeying him.…
Not long ago, in a Starbucks in Evanston, I eavesdropped on a couple breaking up.
It couldn't be helped. We were wedged together, the unhappy couple and me, in a corner of the coffeehouse, so tightly that we might as well have been commuters on a rush-hour train. I had a newspaper open and every once in a while would try to read a sentence or two but could never get far. My attention kept drifting to the love affair being terminated next to me.…
You are better than this.
You are not a hostile person, not a picker of fights. You’re a Boy Scout troop leader, Friend of the Library, volunteer at the PTA. Last year, you even called in and donated money during one of those NPR fund drives.
And yet you have these moments when the worst parts of your nature come to the fore. Moments when the world seems to be conspiring against you and the frustration builds inside you and the frustration turns to rage.…
Walking up Wells Street in Chicago not long ago, I passed a storefront yoga studio. Nothing unusual about that, now that yoga studios have become about as ubiquitous as drug stores in some upscale neighborhoods. But what made me stop and take notice that day was a sign in the studio’s window.
“Stress,” it announced, “is connected to 99 percent of all diseases.”…
They are perched on folding chairs at the edge of an alfalfa field in lower Michigan, babysitting a fire.
Bill Kremer and his wife, Diane, and a bunch of their friends have been at it for a few days now, tending the big brick wood-fueled kiln that sits out behind the Kremer house. Inside the kiln is enough room for a few tons of combusting firewood and more clay pots, vases and sculptures than Kremer and his potter friends could fashion in half a year. A new shift shows up every six hours or so, to worry over the fire and feed it. Tending the fire, it turns out, is a job that requires near-constant vigilance. Not that anyone’s complaining.…
When my wife and I moved to Chicago’s suburbs last year, we had to launch a search for all the essentials in our new neighborhood: dry cleaning, auto repair, some decent Chinese takeout.
Much more difficult was finding a Catholic church we could stomach.
The problem with my new parish church was that everyone there wanted to hold my hand. At 9 o’clock Mass each Sunday, when the time came to say the Lord’s Prayer , our pastor would instruct all of us in the pews to join hands. On cue, all around the church, grinning strangers would stretch across aisles and reach over seat backs to take hold of each other, as if the world record for hand-holding was at stake. When the gymnastics were complete and the celebrant could be assured that no hand was not encased in someone else’s, the praying could begin.…