Things have been pretty quiet lately, and I started cleaning out my room in preparation for the summer yard sale I was going to have with my neighbor. Even though there is a lot of “crap” in my bedroom, there is also something extremely satisfying and gratifying to rustle through old things, finding lost treasures and ruminating over old memories. I opened the bottom drawer to a whole stack of letters, dating back to when I first started school (public, not homeschooled) in 4th grade- I even found one or two from my kindergarten tutor from when I was five years old.
Every couple years, I open these up to revisit a huge chunk of my life, and I remember even getting teary-eyed the last time I came across these letters. Call me a sentimental old fool (I’m already kind of a grandma in many ways), but handwritten letters and cards are absolutely the key to my heart. There is something preserved in the notes someone wrote to you that is worth so much more than shooting an email or a text at an instant touch. They become preserved fragments of a part of one’s life, much like a picture freezes a snapshot, but a detailed, wordy summary of their life at the time, their impression and affection for you, and likewise the length of the letter that required more thoughts and more effort to write it neatly. Even doodles and the way the card is decorated or addressed to one adds personalization to it.
There is a lot about me that is different from most people, and that is the necessity to slow down and stare at life in the very present, observing as the world changes with each second, with each step I take. But I am still a victim, even if a lucky one, of the fleeting technology that is exponentially progressing forward. In today’s modern age where everything is almost too convenient, sometimes I jump from one to other of twenty tabs I have opened up on Google Chrome, checking my email, flitting to Facebook, looking up definitions on Dictionary.com to reading up on the latest news.
The anticipation of opening up a card is not dissimilar to the excitement of ripping open a wrapped present. Particularly knowing the letter travelled physically from another area, country even, from their hands to mine, is wondrous to say the least. Everything in the contents of a page were carefully placed, because unlike Tinder or other instantaneous forms of communication, it takes a minimum of days to send the note, and it will take another few days for the reciprocating message to arrive.
If you only had one chance every two weeks to share anything with another individual, it would highly decrease the ruddy, sometimes crude pick-up lines, or one-word, blasphemous “Hey”s. It would eliminate the cursory methods to which we sometimes respond to each other. In all these ways, the beauty of letters is so much more than just that of a plain sheet of white parchment with scribbles and ink. It is a symbol of everything that is quickly becoming lost in the frays of the new generation, and each after that. I hope somehow that we appreciate the meaningfulness behind the depths of old-school communication, and conserve the humanity and empathy that is inspired by letters.