A German Brötchen is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
A chewy bagel is just about the opposite. So, of course, Germans crave Brötchen when they live in the United States and Americans crave bagels when they live in Germany. (Can you tell we’ve had both of these conversations in our international family?)
We were happy to discover this tiny bagel bakery on a recent visit to Leiden in The Netherlands.
While we waited for the bakery to open, we looked at this odd contraption in the window.
More like air hockey than a table saw. Joe The Slicer slices bagels. We saw him(?) in action. That fuzzy circle in the bottom middle of the picture is a bagel in motion. The blade turns fast (90 km/hour) but it doesn’t saw right through the bagel, it catches it and flings it the length of the conveyer belt with a resounding thump.
This is making me hungry all over again.
The owner told us how he learned to make bagels after living in Ramsey, New Jersey. A handy bagel flow chart painted all the wall shows all the boiling–chilling–baking steps. Once he convinced himself he could make them in his home kitchen, he opened this bakery in Leiden. It’s a kind of alchemy, moving food culture from one place to another.
Time to get back to work. I’m getting too hungry anyway and the nearest bagel is much too far away. I’m inspired by this “do one thing” attitude.
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Sometimes we imprison ourselves in a little bubble and no one can reach us. When we’ve made up our minds about what something will be like, there’s no more room to see what it might be like.
A few weeks ago, I went for a hike with friends. One child in our group really, really didn’t want to come on a hike, but she enjoyed the castle ruin the more than anyone else in the group.
I’ve had similar experiences with children who didn’t want to go to a garage sale or thrift store and then found the treasure of their hearts.
Why are we (or our reluctant children) rewarded when we have a change of heart?
Is it because the decision to take part requires a change in perspective, an opening up, a willingness to engage? Sometimes we are ready to do this.
When I went to Germany for a year as an exchange student, I had studied German for years and had missed a previous opportunity. I was well prepared and eager and had a wonderful year in Marburg. Later on, I went to West Africa and wasn’t prepared. I had to work much harder to arrive. Most of the year was spent trying to catch up.
Sometimes we need help with the wanting. We don’t feel ready. We resist with all our strength. What cracks things open?
9 Ideas for Overcoming Reluctance
1. Make a wish. If you don’t want to do the work, go on the journey, visit the relatives, or take the hike, you can say to yourself:
“I WISH I wanted to do the work, go on the journey, etc.”
For some reason, this tricks the brain gently down the stream from wishing to “wanting.”
I’m stealing from someone’s work here, because I remember reading this [Brainpickings? The Sparring Mind?], but I don’t know where I read it. If you know, please let me know in the comments.
2. Security blanket. Give yourself an out. If you don’t like it, you can just go home. If you get tired, you can go to bed, read a book, take a nap. If you get hungry, you can have a snack. If this draft doesn’t work, you can delete it.
3. Look after the heart. What possible rewards could you promise yourself that fit with this particular adventure? How might this adventure help you do something that matters? I’m thinking of favorite activities or personal values. Can you play trumpet with Opa or rediscover your spouse? What kind of emotional “treat” can you build in?
4. Get ready. Put your open suitcase in a convenient place and drop things in as they come to you. Hang up a sketch of your plot line in the hallway and add ideas as you walk by.
Before I went to West Africa for a year, my mom helped me sew a “floor” onto my mosquito net “tent” so I could sleep securely.
Is there a symbolic object that makes you feel ready in a hurry? Phone? Water bottle? Daypack? Special pen? Book or magazine to read?
5. Get an observation tool. Something to help you see or hear can make it easier to slow down and experience the adventure. Camera? Sketchbook? Audio/video?
6. Get a new narrative. What do you tell yourself when you set out for adventure?
“It will be interesting to see what this is like.”
“We’re going exploring.”
“I’m sketching out a story, a character, a dialogue snippet.”
“I’m a pirate.”
Or ask others an interesting question: “What is your favorite memory from your childhood?”
7. Gain a new skill. Get help from others before you go.
My daughter’s school provided a “bike whisperer” to help kids lose the training wheels before a class bike trip.
Try an Italian phrasebook or a new method for drafting a story. Relax a rule for the journey or follow a rule you have previously ignored.
8. Embrace weakness. Remember basic needs for food, water, rest, exercise, reading, bathroom breaks, quiet and social time. Give yourselves credit for being on the adventure.
9. Most of all, watch for the unexpected reward. Start enjoying now. What is good about this situation?
A bee stung my daughter’s foot the day before a family trip to Leiden in The Netherlands. She couldn’t walk far with her swollen foot, so we took a boat tour of the canals that was the highlight of our trip. The Dutch apothecary also gave us a tip for a wonderful (and hidden) place for breakfast overlooking the city.
Bonus: I find the Bible useful for understanding my life and the world we live in. If this doesn’t interest you, feel free to skip this paragraph.
The day after our hike, this Bible verse showed up in my calendar:
“For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” —Phil 2:13+14
This verse resonated with me because grumbling or disputing is inevitable when one person doesn’t want to come along. The German is closer to what I’m thinking about here:
“Gott ist’s, der in euch wirkt beides, das Wollen und das Vollbringen, nach seinem Wohlgefallen.”
In English, this means: God helps us to “want” and to do the work tied to the “want” to bring that “want” to fruition. To me this means I can call on God for help when I want to want the adventure, but can’t manage it on my own.
What works for you? How do you help yourself and other reluctant adventurers arrive? Have you ever overcome reluctance and found an unexpected reward?