The Lost Art of Letter Writing

We live in a fast-paced world, making us feel as if the world is smaller in size. It isn’t, and we have the same number of hours in the day as did our ancestors. Yet, we’re always complaining of too much to do and not enough time to do it in. Wonder if our early ancestors complained about all of the time it took to hunt down their food? A topic for another day. Do you want to slow the pace? I’m turning my attention to handwriting letters. Crazy, huh? In a world where we can email and get an immediate reply. And therein lies the problem. We believe everything has to be immediate today. We’ve forgotten how to savor a moment. Our minds move on to the next item on our to do list before celebrating what we’ve accomplished in the current moment. 

My husband taught me a valuable lesson. He writes President Trump each month, a letter thanking him and letting him know how the VA is doing, as well as something about life in Tennessee. And each month he receives a letter from the White House. I’d like to believe that President Trump takes time to respond, but even if he has an aide write Ray back, the thrill of receiving a letter from the White House never changes. When that letter arrives on White House Stationery, it is thrilling. It creates a sense of connection. Now, this isn’t about the person so much as a thrill of the office itself. By the way, my son has a letter from President Clinton and that letter is also valued. 

How thrilling to know that you’re giving someone else that sense of excitement when they see an envelope with your return address. I know I savor the Christmas cards I receive each year, especially the ones with letters of what they’ve been doing for the past year. 

In an attempt to reconnect with friends and family, some of whom I’ve lost touch, I’m writing letters. Yep, snail mail letters. I’ve pulled out my stationery collected throughout the years. I spend way too much time looking at pens and quality stationery. I’ve added a new ink cartridge in my fountain pen. The old cartridge had dried up from non-use. I’ll spend some of today writing a letter to my cousin. I failed to send out the birthday card I bought for her last month. By the way, she never misses my birthday. I’m hanging head in shame.

Writing long hand, as opposed to typing, uses a different part of your brain and it slows down the thinking process, helping you decipher your idea more clearly. Perhaps all Twitter and Facebook uses should think about writing out their thoughts on paper before typing them into social media. We might get a lot less garbage in our virtual mailboxes. 

Time passes far too quickly in this digital world in which we live. For more on this topic check out Cal Newport’s book Digital Minimalism.It will make you think about technology in a different light. But that’s next week’s blog.

Wouldn’t you like to find a way to slow down and savor a few moments of your time? Handwriting letters is my way of putting value back in my time. I’d love to hear from you? Do you write letters, cards, or notes?