“How wonderful it is to be
able to write someone a letter!
To feel like conveying your
thoughts to a person, to sit at
your desk and pick up a pen, to
put your thoughts into words
like this is truly marvelous.” 


                  – Haruki Murakami

 

 

You’ve Got Mail

Do you write letters?
  I almost wrote ‘Do you Still write letters’, but it sounded far too negative. It made it sound like letter writing was something people don’t do any more, like it was old fashioned, out of date, and irrelevant in these days of instant communication.
  Thing is, most people, or many people, don’t write letters. It’s far too easy to type out an email, tap out a text, or squeeze all your sentiments into a 140-character Tweet and press send. Certainly it is a helluva lot quicker than finding a pencil or pen that works, grabbing a piece of paper, scribbling out your thoughts, folding it into an envelope, finding a stamp, and then trudging out to the post box.
  It seems so ‘90s, or ‘80s. . . or ’60s.
  How far back do you have to think to remember when the post box was the main way to communicate with the written word.
  When was the last time you received a letter? No, I’m not talking about something from the bank or real estate agent, or the regular donation request from your alma matter; I’m talking about a letter from an old friend, or your sister, former lover, or Dad?
  Do you remember how you smiled the last time you did?
  Few people write by hand in these digitally-enabled days. It’s not that we don’t communicate, its just that we don’t do it in the same way that we used to.
  I believe in the merits of email and such; hell, I reply upon it. But it is not the same.
  All this electronic stuff does not contain the same quantity or quantity of communication. You don’t send huge emails now, you say what needs to be said, maybe add an emoticon, and you fire it off. If you forgot to ask something, you send another, and another, or text something out while you take transit.
  It is convenient, casual, fast, and easy.
  Writing a letter takes time, and knowing it will take time to arrive at the intended destination, you put a little more thought into it. You might write several paragraphs on one subject, then a few more on something else. It may even take most of the page to get the ‘Hi, how are you’ and state of the weather out of the way before you get around to writing what you intended to write?’ You might even indent to make it more formal, or to make it look important and more like a real letter.
  Then there’s a few sentences in the P.S. and ‘one more thing’ with the P.S.S.
  You sign off with a ‘warmest regards’, ‘thinking of you’, or something that sums it all up. Then you sign it.
  That’s a letter, and it takes time.
  You actually sit (and slow) down to make it legible and worthwhile.
  That’s the kind of letter I’m taking about.
  It is all about slowing down.
  It’s about communicating at a humble pace, thinking, and doing, and writing.
  I’m sitting down right now to write a letter to a long distance friend. I actually had to email to get the new address, but I’m going to now take the time to write a long letter. It’s a letter with no real purpose; one to simply catch up. It might not even be about anything you would classify as important, but the actual act of writing a letter is.
  Letter writing is more humane, perhaps more civilized in a certain way, but it is more intimate. And I suspect it will be given a little more attention than an email would. I even think there will be a smile at the other end.
  Yes, it will take time, but maybe that is a good thing. Isn’t everything else moving too fast these days?

I am curious. Do you still write letters? How often? Send me an email, let me know how often your write, and whether you’d be interested in writing more. I have a plan, or a thought or . . . well, send me an email and I’ll tell you all about it.
jglewis@mythosandmarginalia.com

 

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