A mesmerized audience of one

Washington is a city that thrives on its work ethic reputation. Not only does it attract a particular subset of humanity which registers extremely high on the ambition scale, but this same group revels in competitions of who works harder, who demonstrates greater dedication to their cause, and who has the most to say—usually measured in pounds of pages transcribed and the late night time stamp of emails sent–regardless of how illuminating such responses may be.  Alas, those who are furiously drafting these interdepartmental memos usually cannot afford to reflect on the utility of their efforts; to do so would invite sadness into their lives.


To wit, I must share with you the following example: recently, I attended a lovely ballet at the Kennedy Center. It was a balmy, weekend evening, the performance had been well reviewed, and people were atwitter with the avant-garde costumes and production. Well, everyone but one. During intermission, a row in front of me, I was stunned to see a woman pulling out a very thick report entitled, “Planned Parenthood: Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota,” through which she was paging while simultaneously creating a chart of numbers and reviewing emails on the side. Unable to stop staring, I noticed an entire portfolio of papers she had brought along with her. While I certainly can appreciate her dedicated efforts, is Row S of the Eisenhower Theater the ideal setting for such work? Just how important is this report?


One of my very favorite activities is people watching—it’s among the top five reasons why I get out of bed each morning. The surprise element offers a most illuminating take on the human condition—my inability to predict what happens next delights me time after time. So, while yes, I was at the Kennedy Center to enjoy the cultural presentation, I was really in attendance for the people watching. Along with the worker bee audience member in Row S, I saw a woman who basically was wearing no skirt to this same performance—I suspect she found her seat a bit scratchy–an entire array of women garbed in ill-fitting, seamed stockings (is this a new trend?), and someone else who selected to wear pantyhose with their flip flops.


Alas, no gentleman caught my eye this time ‘round, but I know they can be competitive. Back in Santa Barbara, we hosted characters ranging from a crazy, bearded Asian fellow who wore white robes and wandered around downtown proclaiming the merits of marijuana to anyone who might listen. There was another man who liked to box backwards covering large swaths of the city. And of course, my personal favorite was the guy at the gym who enjoyed attracting attention with his exuberant high kicks, unnatural looking tan, and flashy, matching exercise gear.


The best thing about people watching is the unanticipated way it can take us out of ourselves; for just a moment, we’re removed from our treadmill of worries and riveted by the person next door—a person who is fully themselves, obviously unconcerned about the opinions of others, and thus serves as an example of the freedom which comes with a certain strain of self confidence. So, take a moment and look around–it’ll give your day an unexpected lift!


Check out this for self-confidence! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWVzIfUfjGk



One Response to “A mesmerized audience of one”

  1. helenga Says:

    Next time I’m taking YOU with me on a cross country drive through the south (or anywhere for that matter)! We would have so much fun and the people watching is fantastic! I also highly recommend Rodeo Drive, Las Vegas and Miami Beach for the best people watching in the US! Yes, people watching is my favorite sport, too. 🙂

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