I think I wrote my first letter when I was nine. In fact, I think most of the things I still love to do…I knew them at nine. Letters held fast throughout the years, connecting me not only with people, but with the love I had for the written word.
In years past, I wrote to my grandmother, to friends that had moved, to pen pals across continents. I wrote notes in class, birthday cards to everyone, and drafts of every sort. The best part of my day was when the mailman arrived, and usually that mailman was my father, returning from work with stamped envelopes he had retrieved from the post office box. The best mailbox I ever had was slit into the front door, and I would wait in crouched silence by it while the postman walked up (could he sense me there on the other side, hiding?), lifted the creaky metal latch, and shoved the splattering papers all over the floor in front of me.
A letter for me was always something special, and that continues to this day. I still have friends that write, I still have pen pals, and recently I have letters from people who have read my book, Present. It’s not simply that someone wrote to me, because I do get that from my cell texts and email box as well. But a letter is something special. It comes in a little wrapped package called an envelope, and it is always interesting to me to see the cancelled stamp at the corner. Sometimes there are little doodles, and if it is from someone I know, I recognize the handwriting instantly and *know* who I am about to read.
And it IS “who” I am about to read, not “what”. Because between the words, the handwriting, the crossouts, the length, the meandering from thought to thought (no rough drafts here), I get a sense of that person that I simply cannot read via a text or email. Furthermore, it is easy for me to focus, to pay complete attention, to that person, to be–you know–PRESENT. I may have a hot mug at hand, but there aren’t any notifications or other open web tabs vying from my attention. Instead, I can breathe, read, laugh, ponder, wrinkle my brow, and even run my hands over their handwriting and pray. Later, I will reread and think about my response, write back, and put my letter into the mailbox to head out to their awaiting hands and heart.
Does that sound lovely to you? Or a waste of time? To me, it is but one way to slow down, to exhale, to enjoy the thought and care of another human being, even if we’ve never met. I find myself in gratitude for that person, for the gift of their effort and time and energy to engage with me.
So I’ve been thinking of you. Yes, you, my reader. Wouldn’t you love to get a letter in between all of the ads, bills, and junk? I’ve been thinking…what would it look like if I hand wrote out my thoughts once a month, copied them along with my drawings and doodles, addressed them to YOU, and put them into my mailbox to head out? What would that do for you? Would it just feel a little different to sit on the porch or at the kitchen table or even in the car to open up an envelope and have a few moments of contemplative thought?
It’s coming. Whether to one or to many, I am looking forward to putting pen to paper and inviting you to a sweeter, slower pace of communication. Would you like some snail mail?