Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

It's no secret that people seldom write letters any more, if at all. Most of our everyday communication is done either in person, via email, or often on Facebook. The only things we mail any more are packages and cards for holidays. When's the last time you actually wrote a letter? It will probably take you a little while to remember when. For me it was about 10 minutes ago.

I make it a goal to write letters to my grandparents at least once a month, often trying to shoot for multiple times a month. I started out doing it many years ago simply because my grandparents would write notes in the cards they sent me for holidays. I thought it would be nice to take a moment and write back because it was pretty cool getting something in the mail that wasn't a bill, junk, or a magazine I didn't order.

As it became habit, I started to get more out of the process. Writing an email or posting on someone's wall or shooting off an @-reply doesn't take much time or thought and, truthfully, I can't remember the last time I took more than a couple of minutes on any type of online correspondence that wasn't either for work or a blog post. When I sit down with a pad, pen, and mug of coffee on a Saturday or Sunday morning, however, with music playing in the background and the pets at my feet, it is a supremely unique communication experience.

My penmanship is not the greatest and I'm not the fastest writer in the world so as I formulate my sentences and write them down, I actively reflect on what I'm writing about. As I write about my volleyball game from last week, even if it's only for a sentence, during the time I'm writing that sentence I'm actively reflecting on that moment.  It's not about writing about right now; it's about remembering the memorable events from the last few weeks, putting down a brief description of them, and reliving them if even for only a moment or two.

After every letter, I feel like I've strengthened my memories of the time covered in the correspondence. I'm not only recounting the events of my life for my grandparents', but I'm rewinding time and reviewing the memories I'd created. It's very refreshing to reminisce in these short bursts. So if you find yourself bored or wondering what to do with an hour or two, grab a pen and paper and just write someone a letter. It would be amazing to see more letters flowing through the post office every day... and really, who doesn't love to get a hand-written letter every now and again?

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