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.”