A friend recently sent me the following excerpt from something she was reading:
First of all, I’m a writer. I always have been. Ask my parents. I’ve written short stories, essays, news stories, feature articles and even opinion pieces. I used to make my own newspapers, write letters to all of my friends and spend endless nights just writing out notes.
Writing has always helped me commit things to memory. I would write out my memory work for school. I would recopy notes in order to prepare for a test. I would jot down sections of books to etch it into the wrinkles of my brain. It’s way different than typing. In fact, I’ve typed most of this without looking at the keyboard. I’m barely looking at the screen. I’m watching Rachael Ray on TV (Helen Hunt is on) and watching some ground turkey brown on the stove. I barely have to give it attention other than to tell my fingers to press the keys according to the thoughts in my brain.
When I’m writing letters, I have to sit down, pick a pen, select a piece of paper or a note card. I have to think about what I’m going to jot down on the paper. It’s not like the computer where I can backspace-backspace-backspace over paragraphs and words that don’t make sense. I don’t want to waste that time or space. I want to fill it with the words and prose that will be delivered to my recipient. I think about the reader and what I’m trying to say. I craft everything carefully. Letters, for me, are more than just notes exchanged by mail.
I need to connect with the letter.
I hope that connection comes through to the reader. I honestly do this each time I write a letter, thank you card, note or just about anything else. The words in my letter can’t be conveyed properly through a text or an email. They can’t hold the same meaning if said over the phone. These are words that are meant to be written. Without saying it, I hope the reader knows the time, effort, mental capacity, love and attention I gave to that letter–all for them.
I understand it when I read a letter. Besides the writing letters, I realize that the person had to sit down and think about me. They had to take time out of their busy schedules to think about the message they wanted to convey to me. They had to sit down and focus all of their attention on the letter.
They had to go to the store to buy a stamp or hunt through their stationery to find the right paper (just me? okay, that’s why I love my mail from A Beautiful Mess). They have to dig out a stamp, which lots of people don’t necessarily keep in their house. They have to get my address. They have to put it in the mailbox.
All for me.
All for you.
Clearly, you wouldn’t do this for just anyone. There is a certain level of compassion and love that goes in to each letter. That connection is more than just what they did, it’s why they did it. They care for you! They care enough about you to do all of that work to send you a letter! The connection line is drawn. It’s up to you to reciprocate.
Some letters don’t require a response, like thank you cards, but if someone bothers to send you a note, consider all of the above before you just toss it to the side and forego writing them back. Send them a text, an email or a letter of your own to let them know that their letter (kindness, love, words, connection) has been received. It might make all the difference in the world.