Old-School Ways to Soo­the the Soul


Mill­en­ni­als, that group of 25- to 30-so­me­things who ca­me of age with the in­ter­net, are hungry for so­me in­ner peace and quiet ti­me. And they are ta­king cu­es from their grand­pa­r­ents.

En­ter the foun­tain pen. The old-fa­shio­ned wri­ting tool see­med doo­med af­ter the ar­ri­val of the ball­point in the 1960s and the key­board la­ter. But now its an­ti­qua­ted charm of­fers a wel­co­me re­spi­te from all the cli­cking and swi­ping.

“People de­scri­be drawing ink in­to their pen from an ink bott­le and wi­ping the nib as a Zen­li­ke ex­pe­ri­ence,” Ste­phen Brown, a 34-ye­ar- old psy­cho­lo­gist in Red Deer, Al­ber­ta, told The Ti­mes.

Oddly, the sa­me forces that re­le­ga­ted the foun­tain pen to the crus­ty collec­tions of old men ha­ve re­vi­ved it for a youn­ger ge­ne­ra­ti­on. Mr. Brown’s YouTu­be chan­nel, on which he re­views pens, has mo­re than 45,000 sub­scri­bers.

“I didn’t ex­pect this,” he said. “Yes, so­me chan­nels ha­ve mil­li­ons, but I’m not tel­ling people how to crea­te a smo­ky eye!”

Ste­ve Birk­hold, the head of Uni­ver­sal Lu­xu­ry Brands, said bu­si­ness has tri­pled sin­ce he bought the Ame­ri­can distribution rights of La­my, the Ger­man pen ma­ker.

So the old is new again. And that should be O.K. with Katy Klass­man, of Wa­shing­ton, who loves her foun­tain pen as much as a pa­per book and a soaking bath. “May­be I’m just born in the wrong cen­tu­ry,” she told The Ti­mes.

She re­calls when her grand­mo­ther would ba­the with a spon­ge and fra­grant soap. “It was one of the things that ma­de her for me the most gla­mo­rous wo­man in the world,” she said.

Now, baths are tou­ted as gad­get-free zo­nes, Ruth La Fer­la wro­te in The Ti­mes, re­tre­ats from sen­so­ry over­load.

“Even fi­ve ye­ars ago, the bath might ha­ve be­en se­en as a form of in­dul­gence,” Lu­cie Gree­ne, a trend fo­re­cas­ter, told The Ti­mes. “Now it’s re­co­gni­zed as a form of the­ra­py.”

Con­su­mers ha­ve be­en lap­ping up oils and po­ti­ons that pro­mi­se an in­to­xi­ca­ting bath. For the cos­me­tics ma­ker Lush, sa­les of its bath bombs ha­ve about dou­bled in three ye­ars, from just over eight mil­li­on to mo­re than 15.6 mil­li­on in 2018.

This is all part of a well­ness in­dus­try that grew 12.8 per­cent from 2015 to 2017, to $ 4.2 tril­li­on, ac­cor­ding to a 2018 report by the Glo­bal Well­ness In­sti­tu­te in Mia­mi.

The cra­ving for self- ca­re ex­tends to sleeping. Like bath ti­me, whi­tenoi­se im­mer­si­on is being re­born, with a pro­li­fe­ra­ti­on of apps and de­vices that ge­ne­ra­te my­riad sounds to help light slee­pers get a good night’s rest.

Mynoi­se.net, an on­li­ne sound ge­ne­ra­tor, has mo­re than one mil­li­on pa­ge views a month, ac­cor­ding to The Ti­mes. So­me of its tracks in­clu­de car in­te­ri­or, oil tan­ker and laund­ro­mat.

Pe­ne­lo­pe Gre­en, a Ti­mes re­por­ter, has her sound app set to air- con­di­tio­ner, may­be con­ju­ring me­mo­ries of a Man­hat­tan childhood or so­me­thing much ol­der, she said.

Whi­te noi­se “is one of the first things we he­ar from our first mo­ment of exis­tence, in ute­ro,” Fred Ma­her, a music pro­du­cer, told The Ti­mes.

That may be why Pa­ram Dedhia, the director of sleep me­di­ci­ne at the Can­yon Ranch in Tuc­son, Arizona, has equip­ped all his rooms with Mar­pac Dohms, a whi­te-noi­se ma­chi­ne in­ven­ted in 1962.

“We don’t ha­ve to ha­ve a bug or pill for every ill,” he said. “If we could all self-soo­the, it would ma­ke it ea­sier to hand­le other cha­os.”

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