I read a post on Facebook the other day about how wonderful it would be if people wrote letters again. I couldn’t agree more. We’ve become so entrenched in instant gratification and the ease with which we can contact people, that few actually write letters anymore.
I’m not that old, but I have some incredible memories of sending and receiving love letters. Thinking about those years spent writing brings a smile to my eyes.
Stationary in an incredible array of styles and colors. Sometimes monogrammed. Lace and pearls for added elegance on certain occasions.
Matching envelopes. Sometimes pictures drawn on them or additional notes. Even a well placed lipstick kiss.
Affixing the stamp that will bring your words to the hands of the recipient. Opening the mailbox and letting that letter go. Watching it slide down the back of the mailbox door. Then checking to make sure it didn’t get stuck.
Waiting eagerly for the latest letter to come. Checking the mailbox daily even if a letter had just been sent.
Careful not to tear through the paper when you delicately open the envelope, his words in his handwriting come to life. Sometimes a word or two resonate in your mind in his voice. Touching the paper he used and feeling him closer because you’ve held the same paper in your hands.
Storing the letters in a safe place to read over and over again.
It is truly a lost art to build a relationship, or continue one, via a single letter every week or every month. Slowly savoring the images created. The sentiment expressed. The effort made.
Now, with a few keystrokes and a few moments of time, messages are sent and received. Often we type without truly re-reading what we are saying. We don’t select as carefully our words before we hit “send.” We don’t have those moments to rethink what is said in an angry or sad moment. No time divides the writing and getting the letter into the mailbox at the end of the drive or across town. It’s all instantaneous – good, bad and truly ugly.
We type in truncated versions of our language hoping to save typing time and still get our message across. We send brief texts just to check in during a moment of free time. While wonderful, these brief reminders that you are in someone’s thoughts fail to build true depth, only attachment and dependence on the communication.
I have had two amazing letter writers in my life and I still have some of their thoughts from the letters memorized more than 20 years ago. One wrote me for a year, the other for six years. While we could have spoken on the phone, the letters were such a romantic way of enhancing our relationships. We shared our thoughts, our dreams, our plans, our goals and sometimes our frustrations.
The anticipation of waiting to read the next words was amazing and always hopeful. Sometimes photos were included, sometimes other small gifts. Selecting the words to write in response to sentiments written often weeks earlier was always an exhilarating exercise. How do you capture a month’s worth of moments and thoughts to share on a sheet of paper or two? Practice and dedication.
I’m sad for this generation which is growing up speaking texts and hashtags. Sharing their thoughts for the world to see in fewer than 150 characters. Posting photos that anyone can save to their own computer. There is no privacy, no time to think and say just the right words to convey a thought. Moments are shared by spewing forth whatever seems right in that one moment. Then captured in the public domain forever.
I wish we could go back to writing letters, being romantic and thinking through what our words are before they are sent. Having private conversations and taking time to think before we speak. Just slow the world down a bit and make true connections.
(Write incorporating 3 words – envelope, latest, divide)