There are a lot of magazines in my house.
I think that’s something of a throwback, a retro way of getting information. I like the quieter pace of a magazine versus the immediate rush of flipping through the internet, clicking from link to link when something catches your fancy, going deeper down the rabbit hole with nothing much to show at the end. Not that I don’t spend my fair share of time – or more than my fair share! – surfing, but I do love the thrill of actual mail in the mailbox, a curated set of articles and fascinating information in one pretty, glossy package.
My mother does, too, and this past year she gifted my kids with a few subscriptions each to some fascinating and unique magazines for kids. I like reading them too, but the titles were starting to stack up a bit around here as we fell behind.
Then I had a brainwave: magazine rack in the bathroom.
The kids, or myself, will go for a bathroom break, and come out with some excellent tidbit of information. Maybe it’s about baby pandas and how zoos manage when twins are born. Maybe it’s behind the scenes information about the upcoming Star Wars movie. Maybe it’s a brief history of the periodic table.
The other day I was checking out Muse – sort of a magazine version of CBC Radio for kids – and they had this great article on words. Every writer I know loves words – finding just the right one to say what you want to say is some kind of nirvana.
This article was about a researcher called Tim Lomas, who has a project on the go where he collects unique words – words in various languages that are untranslatable, because there’s no exact parallel in any other language. And even better, he’s specifically interested in words about feelings and emotions, that have a positive bent – words that can help us understand each other better, share our experiences better, and most importantly, feel better. It’s called the Positive Lexicography Project.
There’s “bilita mpash,” from the Bantu, means a wonderful, positive dream – the opposite of a nightmare. “Whakakoakoa” from the Maori is how to tell someone to cheer up. “Tjuvsmaka” is Swedish for stealing small bits of food while cooking, when you think no one is looking – I’m having that one put on an apron. And my new favourite? “Chrysalism,” which is actually English for the warm, safe feeling you get when you are inside during a thunderstorm. I adore that feeling, and often tried to talk about it during a storm, and never knew there was an actual word for it. In my own language, no less!
It’s a beautiful thing, it seems to me, to discover glorious new words in a fascinating magazine right in your own bathroom.