August 20, 2010

In the Mail

Writing Letters

Its a lost art, people say. Communicating via pen and paper. I wonder if kids even pass notes in class any more, or if they just text back and forth. In my recent move, I found piles of letters that I have saved for years.  Random records of moments in my life, received from friends and family all over the country and the world.

I think my letter writing really started when I moved to a new state after sixth grade and wanted to keep in touch with my friends. I didn't have email until I was a senior in high school and during the years leading up to that I made a number of friends who lived several towns or counties away.  Of course we could have dialed each others' numbers, but I've always been more inclined to pen a letter to someone far away than to call them. Not that I don't like talking on the phone and catching up immediately, sharing laughs, and catching the cadence of someone's voice. At that time, though it was a good way to connect with and get to know people that I might not spend hours talking to on the phone.

Over the years I have kept in touch with friends far away, and some near, by writing. Letter writing is a chance to sit down, pause, and spend some time with someone who's there only in spirit.  When the letter reaches their mailbox and they rip open the envelope, they get to spend a few minutes with me, wherever they are.

Now that I live a few days' drive from most of my loved ones, I am reminding myself to take up letter writing again.  Even though there is email, texting, phone calls, and facebook (I draw the line at tweeting), I still value the exchange of writing.  Of course I appreciate the possibility instant gratification and connection. The ability to connect any time I want certainly has its merits and so does being able to buy a snack and eat it out of the plastic bag when you are hungry. But making it yourself and sitting down to savor it is so much better.

I realize that its a bit strange to be promoting letter writing on a blog but some of you may recall the series of slow posts I started last winter (I haven't forgotten about them, there are more to come!)  In honor of slowing down, why not write a letter? In these days of insta-communication, I think there is something special about going the slow route.

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