This week’s newspaper column (and if you are wondering, Ruthven is near my hometown):
Question: What do you call a story about a broken pencil?
Most scribes fight against “broken pencil syndrome”. To have an article, a column, an essay or a book deemed pointless (useless, futile, meaningless, stupid, inane, needless or worthless) is a cut that does not heal. We combat this by trying to be topical, interesting, current, and sometimes an advocate on the side of the devil just to make things a bit more stimulating. I have oft been told that I err on the side of the angels, but so be it. I can be downright curmudgeonly, but I choose not to be (for the most part) in this column.
The source of my opening “quote” is the Reader’s Digest, a magazine I much maligned in my younger days for no reason other than that someone once made the remark that while the contents were not drivel, they were also not cutting edge. I now disagree with that assessment, not only because my oldest brother gifted me a subscription to the 5” x 7” tiny tome for Christmas, but because I really enjoy the articles and funny and thoughtful tidbits throughout.
In the latest edition I read with some interest an article called “36 Questions to Love By”; “The 2015 Trust Poll Winners”; “Body of Evidence”; “It’s Funny What You Remember”; “Gone Strolling”; and “13 Things You Should Know About Breaking Bad Habits.” And that is only about half of the titles that appeal to me. I learned a lot in those few articles—and found them stimulating and entertaining. None were pointless.
“36 Questions to Love By”, written by Mandy Len Catron tells the story of her experiment with social psychologist, Arthur Aron’s supposition that he could make two strangers fall in love, first by answering 36 questions, then staring into the eyes of the object of your affection for 3 minutes. Mandy called the exercise “accelerated intimacy” and admitted that she and her acquaintance did fall in love, but concluded: “Love didn’t happen to us. We’re in love because we each made the choice to be.” I think that the experiment though did “generate trust and intimacy, the feelings love needs to thrive.”
Who Are Canada’s most trusted influencers? The 2015 Trust Poll Winners counted down the top 20 movers, shakers and opinion makers chosen by Canadians. David Suzuki (who just happens to hail from Ruthven originally) was number one, and Galen Weston (of President’s Choice Loblaw’s fame) was number 20. Only 5 of the twenty were women, so I would say we have a little work to do there. I was surprised and pleased to see airwaves (both radio and TV) personality Marilyn Dennis as number 19, but as they explained, she has been doing her business for over 30 years and “spends more hours engaging the public than most people spend talking to their spouses or children.”
Respected author Jane Smiley penned “It’s Funny What You Remember” about catching up with a classmate she had not seen for over 40 years. She was surprised about what he remembered about her, but more surprised by what he did not know. She made this observation which is very telling: “…most of your life is hidden from people you see day after day…”
In the “13 Things You Should Know About Breaking Bad Habits”, I came across one that I found gasp-inducing. Luc Rinaldi, the author of the article noted in number 12 that: “Draining your energy by kicking one habit can make others more tempting. Case in point: a 2012 study in The Journal of Social Psychology showed that people in relationships were more likely to be unfaithful after resisting a plate of freshly baked cookies.” I am with Cookie Monster here when I say we should all adhere to his advice: “EAT THE COOKIE!”
I am an avid supporter of magazines and books and newspapers. And while I read online via my computer and my newly minted cell phone (yes, I am finally in the 21st century), and I have a kobo, I still love the feel of a book, a mag, or newspaper in my hands. They are solid carriers of the written word—and the smell of the printed word is one that should be bottled.