This past weeked I cleaned out boxes of old files and papers from the past decade and noticed I had no letters. Handwritten ones, the kind we used to write eons ago. I'm not sure why it struck me as odd since I can't remember the last time I actually wrote a letter with a pen (and not just a few sentences scribbled quickly on the sides and edges of a card.)
This irked me. Even frightened me a bit. Does one actually forget how to write a great letter?
So I've decided to make a happening of it for myself this year. I'm writing five handwritten pen-and-ink letters to people each month for 12 months and see what comes of it. No typing, as I somehow feel that would be cheating. And definitely no cards. Flat paper stationary and ink pens held with fingers. I want to remember what it's like talking to someone directly on paper with a pen in my hand.
Already, I can remember the verdant feeling of getting stationary gathered together, setting aside time to write a good and long missive, switching on some music, maybe a libation or two. But I've forgotten the dialogue, the actual process of the letter... how does it all go again? I'm sure I'm not the only one left with this fear. Yet I sure do remember that amazing feeling reading letters, no one forgets that.
Since I'm already a fairly luddite 21 century-er, i.e., I don't use a cell phone except in emergencies, no texts, no laptop, no iPads, etc., this won't come as a surprise to people who know me. I'd honestly communicate in smoke signals if others did. It would be fine with me. But I'm addicted to email as my one main mode of conversation and do not want to lose my ability to write letters. Good ones. The kind I'd want to read.
I have about 20 boxes of these types of handwritten ink-and-paper letters to still riffle through packed in back spaces inside my studio and what's in there is actually a treasure: my entire young adulthood captured for me. I don't want the rest of my life to go up in email and texts, in smoke. Poof! Who will even know I existed? Isn't that, in part, what a letter is -- history and permanence? This is what I thought, how I felt, what my life is like. Here in January 2015. This is my teeny tiny part of the human conversation which someone else can actually hold and see sometime in the future, as well as here and now.
So I'm getting back on the handwritten letter writing bandwagon, and exercising that long unused muscle. I've got a feeling it's like riding a bike, once I get back on it'll come back quickly and I'll not want to get back off.
If you're game for some letter writing yourself, grab some stationary, a pen, an envelope and get to it.