Sunday, June 13, 2010

old magazines, old (good) ways of arguing, & an old soap maker

As I'm making piles of our stuff - pile A bound for destination A in less than a month, pile B bound for destination B in less than a year, pile C for the thrift store/craigslist/give-away, and pile D for decisions to be made/sorting to be done - I found a box of magazines, back issues of National Geographic, Mother Earth News, and Utne that we saved for one reason or another.

I knew that it was time to get rid of them, the whole lot. Mourn the articles unread (or at least un-memorized or un-put to use), the photos un-ooh'd-and-aah'd over. Chalk them up to lost opportunities, plain and simple. It feels like trashing a collection of gems, but we've got to be serious about lightening the load, now more than ever. You get so much junk piled on to your psyche that you can't really focus on any one project or hobby. 

But I couldn't toss 'em without one final look-see. I picked a magazine from the box at random, Utne Nov-Dec '07. And it was so amazing! In a quick browse through, I read this article: "The Great Divide - How do we talk when we disagree?". It's an interview given by Julie Hanus of Stephen Miller, author of Conversation: A History of a Declining Art. You can click on the article name above, if you wish. Here are some snippets of Miller's answers from the interview:

  • "The best conversations are playful. They go different places; people are throwing out ideas, and no one is pronouncing on things." [This is Lori now: and isn't that the truth?! I love rabbit trails. They lead to the best laughter and to the best learning of random tidbits about people, and sometimes, because every one's guards are down, to the best solutions to problems or better ways of seeing.]

  • "Disagreement has to be good-humored...Quite often people don't discuss anything because they're afraid of offending - or if they do discuss something, they're screaming. I have a bunch of friends I've met...we talk about politics and religion. We have people all over the political spectrum, and we criticize each other mercilessly. But it's all in good spirit; we say things like, 'That's a load of crap, Joe!'"

  • "In the United States, people fail to see the distinction between attacking an idea and attacking a person, and they tend to be more offended...It's so easy not to deal with an actual idea and instead just say, 'Oh, you're repressed, you're a Marxist, you're a whatever.' Don't make it personal. There has to be restraint for conversation to succeed."

Then I saw a film review on page 24 by Peter Schilling. Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox is a documentary about Emanuel Bronner, the founder of Dr. Bronner's soaps. Directed by Sara Lamm. Very good timing to see this article, because I just bought a couple bottles of lotion on clearance at The EC Store online, where I was also buying tiny baby underwears. We dig Dr. Bronner's soaps and lotions, though we scratch our heads at the indecipherable moral and religious lingo on the soap bottles. So, now I'm writing down a reminder to somehow come by that film, and I won't have to save the article I tore out. One more thing to toss!

Goodbye, the Nov-Dec '07 issue of Utne. And gee whiz, with as easy as inspiration comes,  don't let me do any more quick browse-throughs. I'll never get packed.


melissa said...

Jeepers criminy, I could've used you and your article at the park today!
You can read about it on my blog.

melissa said...

p.s. good luck with all the sorting and packing...