I might never have heard of iridium if not for Tom Lehrer, whose catchy setting of the periodic table of elements to a Gilbert and Sullivan tune did more to heighten my awareness of chemistry than the few weeks of college Chem I I took before dropping the class.
“…There’s yttrium, ytterbium, actinium, rubidium, and boron, gadolinium, niobium, iridium, there’s strontium and silicon and silver and samarium, and bismuth, bromine, lithium, beryllium, and barium…”
Only the elements iodine, iridium, and iron begin with the letter “i.”
So why choose “iridium” for today’s post? Because one of its earliest uses was in the manufacture of fountain pen nibs. I’m fairly certain my favorite fountain pen has a nib that’s comprised of an iron, nickel, and chromium stainless steel alloy; although some nibs still claim to be “iridium,” none contain it these days, according to the article, “How Can We Talk About Iridium?”
I love fountain pens. It’s easy to write with a word processor, but the thoughts just seem to flow differently – more gracefully, perhaps, and with more focus – when writing with a fountain pen. Flair felt-tip pens come in a close second to fountain pens; they write smoothly and are safer on airplanes or when wearing white. I kill ball point pens; never hand me your favorite! They skip and clump and die within five minutes, tops. My thoughts, when writing with one, feel just as ragged. A gel roller, though, will do in a pinch.
In “The many health perks of good handwriting,” the Los Angeles Times reported, in 2011, that handwriting “may engage our thinking brains differently than pressing down on a key.” Handwriting may also improve memory, inspire confidence and mastery, and activate different parts of the brain to create and integrate “motor pathways into the brain.” And according to the Forbes article, “Writing By Hand Leads To Success In Achieving Goals,” writing is a formalized way of thinking. As we write, purpose and meaning become clearer. We visualize ourselves achieving our goals; we focus on the paths that are open to us, and the writing helps light the way to the one that’s right for us.
If you’re feeling stuck for ideas, or need to remember something, or want to give yourself an extra edge when it comes to achieving your goals, write them down by hand. Keep a journal. Maybe not with an iridium nib, but iridescent purple ink never hurt.
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