Could You Come A Bit Closer, Dear?
Karel Hváček, 1897. Woman with Lorgnette.
Have you noticed that, after you’ve changed your hair style, you’re doubly conscious of everyone else’s hair choices — and may even be more likely to compliment them on theirs)? It’s called the Baader-Meinhof illusion—or, more commonly, as the frequency illusion.
My latest version of this particular illusion stems from my being in the market for new glasses. So, when I joined with members of the Chicago Death Doulas collective to tour the International Museum of Surgical Science, and we passed through a room devoted to the history of eyewear, I had to return after the tour — bypassing glitzier attractions such as the foot x-ray machine to ensure proper shoe fit, the iron lung, the array of refined surgical tools, and the artwork displaying what surgery looked like with early anesthetics.
The museum’s Optical History room housed eighteenth-century spectacles with giant wooden (!) frames; spectacles that stayed on by hugging the nose (pince-nez) and were folded up when not in use; the first 18th century glasses to have arms that wrapped over the ears; and early 20th century aviator goggles that stayed on the head by means of an elastic band.
There were glasses that required constant work, and it’s here that my attention rested.
The lorgnette, like that held by the woman in the painting above by Karel Hlávačzek, had to be held up to the eyes by an attached handle or wand, and so it required maximum participation by its wearer. (You’ve probably seen a lorgnette in a play or movie.) Indeed, the lorgnette was treated more as a fashion accessory and a marker of class status than as ongoing vision correction. (After all, you can’t cook or teach school if one hand is seriously busy trying to help you see.) Used to discretely check out other attendees at the theater or opera, as well as to see the stage action, the lorgnette was a sign of discriminating taste.
An eighteenth-century French fan lorgnette housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
From the perspective of an onlooker, the lorgnette signals the conscious effort to see well. You’re never not conscious of that lady’s attempt to see (since the lorgnette was used by women, for whom it was regarded as unseemly to be seen wearing actual spectacles).
Naturally, I referred this back to THE HUMAN JOURNEY®. Most people, I would hazard, consider themselves good listeners, and others less good listeners than themselves. Indeed, if people could enroll those close to them in classes on “How to Become a Better Listener,” there wouldn’t be enough experts to teach them!
What the lorgnette is to glasses, THE HUMAN JOURNEY is to listening. Not only do we help families listen to each other at a moments of intense change due to serious illness, end of life, bereavement, or other major life transition, but we help family members perceive that they are being heard. It’s in that perception that “THJ” really finds its power. It’s there that the tears tend to flow, and I’m sure that, intuitively, you know why.
Join us to learn to learn the THJ method, to license to use our materials, and to be able to present yourself as a certified THJ Conductor.
Could You Come A Bit Closer, Dear?
What the lorgnette is to glasses, THE HUMAN JOURNEY is to listening. Not only do we help families listen to each other at a moments of intense change due to serious illness, end of life, bereavement, or other major life transition, but we help family members perceive that they are being heard.
Just How Many Hats Can a Person Wear?
These were some of the many “hats” that staff at a special education district identified a few weeks ago as ones they had adopted during the pandemic, when I returned there after a pandemic hiatus to conduct a professional development workshop.
Every Person’s Life is Worth a Novel
We’re ready for ya. All handy in its front pocket, THE HUMAN JOURNEY® has all the ways to meet family members right where they are. We have a way to meet people who don’t want to talk about feelings. We have a way to meet people who would rather express something silently, with a facial expression, a gesture, or a stance, than with telling or sharing.
So, Who’s the Father?
So, Who’s the Father?” isn’t exactly what a person who’s expecting wants to hear. It can feel like an accusation, like an invasion of privacy, or like a completely irrelevant question, depending on one’s method of conception, key relationships, or plan for childrearing. Even in days when there were fewer methods for conceiving a child or for avenues for getting one to adulthood, Emily Post might have advised just to stick with a hearty congratulations.
Ostranenie: A Fantastic Russian Word
Learn to pronounce ostranenie and impress your friends with your accent as well as with this cool word. And what a concept … to learn to re-see, as if with new eyes, those things our eyes think they know so well, they no longer see them at all. To learn anew about the people we think we know best.
The Creature Comforts Checklist
This is it our “Creature Comforts Checklist.” It’s an odd name, we know.
We called it that, recognizing that grief is a very physical thing and that sometimes what grievers most need (aside from not being asked if they need anything) is not to talk but to be. Just a creature.
When you’re grieving, you miss the physical presence of the person you lost …