One of my colleagues at work is leaving work soon and he has invited us, his former teammates for a lunch out, like a going away luncheon. One of my friends from the team and myself have decided that we give him a little something, a memento of some sort, like a going away gift and we opted for a greeting card, a thank you card to be exact. My friend initially volunteered that she be the one to buy the card, however, a few minutes later she texted me that she didn’t find any. Not because there were no greeting cards, but because the selection was… too plain? So I volunteered since I am yet to get to another stationery shop. When I got there, I realized the same. .the greeting cards were “bland”, lacking the personal flavor that cards in the older days used to have as if the manufacturer specifically made the card for you. And right then, as I stood in front of the cards rack, I thought to myself, what happened?
The rate of our advancement in communication and technology appears to be inversely proportional to the existence of letter writing. Now, this is not an empirical statement as I do not have research to prove it. It’s just that in the extent of my surroundings, it appears that no ever sits down to take time to write letters anymore. The kind that makes you think, reminisce, miss the past, and the person you’re writing to. The kind of letter writing that makes you smile, or frown, or cry, or be mad while you recall memories. And holding a pen and paper in front of you has made that happen.
When I was in high school, my friends and I would leave notes of “good mornings” and “have a great days” on each other’s armchair. And at the time, our class starts at 6am! So imagine the effort that we put to wake up early, choose colorful little post-it notes, and write the note to each other.
I think what we’re missing sometimes is that writing letters are a dying art. And art is more than just putting words to form phrases, phrases into sentences, sentences into narratives. It is a “culmination” of different factors, forces, if I may say, that drives a person to reflect and write.
Letter writing allows you to:
- Be with yourself. It gives you and yourself time together. Finding a nice little spot where you can create the letter in solitude. It’s just the paper, the pen, and your sincerest thoughts.
- It makes us digest thoughts. A thank you note becomes a deeper appreciation of the other person because when you already hold the pen, you kind of automatically find the rhythm between your hands, your thoughts, and recall of past instances; the reason or reasons that made you decide to write
- Have an avenue for creativity. When you do sincere letter writing, you kind of create a masterpiece. You weave words to create a material that can be beautiful, lyrical, and poetic. Imagine writing a letter to someone who is dear to you to let them know how you feel for them. As you face the paper and the pen, your emotions associated with that person takes over and lets you express how dear they are to you through words that appreciate, praise, or maybe revere. Or let’s say, you are writing a more serious note, say a confession. As you face the paper, you start to paint a picture of trust and honesty; like a meta-message telling the other person, “I am putting my trust in your hands”, or, “I bare myself to you”
- Reflect. Letter writing is also a time machine. It makes you go back to a certain time period, past experience, previous emotions, and thoughts. And with that, it makes you experience the whole thing all over again, but with a deeper appreciation because this time, you recall the past, with a yearning to experience it again. Or if the situation is a bit on the negative side, you reflect on how it could have been better. At times it may bring regret, however, the letter, as long as it carries honesty with it, is your protective gear. Regrets narrated truthfully should always insinuate growth.
- As ironic as it may seem, writing letters creates a connection between you and the other party that you’re writing the letter to. Imagine writing to a friend who you haven’t seen for a long while. You sit at a quite comfortable corner with your and pen and paper; you start to put to paper certain memories of events, of feelings and thoughts associated to those events and after a few minutes you’re not just doing a recall, but already building a bridge, a memory lane towards the other party where only you and them could walk into. Not dependent on the clarity of a phone line or internet speed, but only on that connection that you are transmitting in your own words, through the ink, and the paper.
My father started working overseas when I was 7 years old (which was 25years ago!), And at the time, we are all aware that communication is not as convenient and easy as it is now. No instant messaging, no video calls, and back then we don’t have easy access to a telephone, and the internet I believe was literally struggling in space. Despite these, my father knew every single thing that happened to me and my younger brother in school and at home, every silly joke that I have come up with, and every fight that my mother and I had. He knew just about everything, and in return, we were always updated with his engagements while he was away. Sure it took a week or more before we knew about the things that happen to us, but taking the time to write letters to him kind of bridged that gap in time.
Artworks are timeless. If we treat letter writing as an art, too, perhaps we can also keep it that way, and all the magical things that each written word brings.