September 16, 2013
Much has been written about the “Lost Art of Letter Writing and Handwriting.” Yes, it is rare to see a handwritten address in one’s daily mail. And, yes, cursive writing is disappearing from school curriculum. But is the art of writing letters really “lost,” like the Holy Grail, or gone the way of the dinosaurs? Think again. People still send each other greeting cards, and stationery shops are still part of the landscape. I venture to suggest that letter writing as an art form is not dead, nor is it lost, it’s just merely neglected.
Like any endeavor that involves skill, it takes time. That element of one’s life that always seems to be in short supply. I heard the phrase “time famine” recently, and I wonder why are we all rushing? The clock still keeps the same pace, the celestial cycles are beyond our control, so where does our time disappear to? It’s up to each of us to answer: are we doing what we enjoy? Or are we scrambling to keep the pace? Let me remind you that you do have a say in the matter. You might have to periodically, step away from your gadgets, those “time vampires,” and reclaim some time for yourself.
It’s healthy to step back and seek balance, put your priorities in perspective and figure out what really matters. From that mindset you might want to slow down and connect on a deeper more personal level that only a handwritten letter can do.
So let’s return to the topic of letter writing. Like watercolor painting, it takes time to write a letter. Margaret Shepherd, author of The Art of the Personal Letter, reminds us that because this form of communication is so rare these days, writing a letter is ever more valuable. “A keepsake,’ another friend exclaimed.
OK, what I really want to acknowledge here is the multifaceted creative expression involved in writing a letter. First of all, what we immediately see in a written letter is the visual expression of your thoughts, feelings and words. Your handwriting, the color of the ink, the color of your stationery, the particular card you’ve chosen- engages the eye and sets a tone. Then as you read the words, there’s the literary piece: how you say what’s on your mind and in your heart. For the writer, there’s therapeutic involvement. You have to clarify how you feel before you can express it. Then there’s the art of communication- relating your thoughts and emotions to another for their consideration. And regarding brain function, writing engages more of the brain that merely making a keystroke. A written letter is a gift of time. It says: “I value you enough to take the time to write this.” I could go on and on, however, for simplicity’s sake, writing a letter is definitely an art that forges a deeper, more personal connection. Like I always say, “If you want to be remembered, write a letter.”
Margaret Shepherd says “It’s her favorite way to communicate.” It’s my favorite way as well.
For starters, send a postcard. Write or print what you might say in a text message. It will take a short while to get wherever you send it, but guaranteed you’ll impress, because “some people still appreciate handwritten notes.”
Image obtained from the acornonline.com catalog.