It seems to me that this big world of ours is really just a bunch of little niches. The conferences/conventions/summits out there are simply gatherings of like-minded people who need to talk about stuff. It’s not any more complicated than that. Every industry, social movement, political group, every everything has a conference or a series of conferences that gather people in for a sequence of days. What’s fascinating to me in spite of the simplicity of the format, these gatherings have tremendous momentum and influence.
I am on the flight from Indianapolis back to Phoenix. I spent the last three days—three very full days—at the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC). About 25,000 teens from around the country come together every two years for this event. In the mornings and at nights, it’s a mix of main stage talks, concerts, and entertainment. In the hours in between, teenagers explore the bazillion acres of convention space for more talks, concerts, entertainment, plus an exhibit hall where different organization set up with booths.
Our own Life Teen booth was cool and all, but if you walked past us, you would never know that we were one of the largest Catholic organizations on earth. It wasn’t big or flashy. Then again, no booth was big and flashy. There’s so little money to be made in this “industry” that it would be silly to invest all your money in a booth b/c there’s no market share to grab. Instead, we all support the mission of Faith in humble and simple ways.
While I was at NCYC, I gave two talks on the subject of the entertainment media to a room of 1000, and one talk to a room of about 1500. I don’t know of any other time throughout the year where I can have that big of an impact in such little time. For this reason, I am a big fan of NCYC. It’s an efficient trip.
I can’t deny, though, that this NCYC thing is so big that I can’t make sense of it. Maybe it’s because I am tired, and it’s too hard to write about something when I haven’t had the time or the energy to write about it. Maybe it’s because I’ve been to this conference several times before, so that the conference’s magnitude in and of itself doesn’t ignite my awe anymore. I’m not discounting the spiritual foundation of NCYC and the impact that the conference can have on each person who attends. It’s just hard to see in the middle of the circus. Here’s the ironic thing—every adult who leads or contributes to the event would probably agree with me. So we all do our part to make it more than a fleeting rah! rah! trip in the middle of November.
I can’t wait to get home. Candyce said that Norah woke up all throughout the night crying because she misses me. What could be more heartwarming to a father than that? The bad news is that Norah ended up waking up Stella. So none of my three girls slept well last night. I can’t wait to be on the ground again so I can continue what’s most important to me—being a husband and father.