“How wonderful it is to be able to write someone a letter! To feel like conveying your thoughts to a person, to sit at your desk and pick up a pen, to put your thoughts into words like this is truly marvelous.” ― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
When was the last time you sat down to write someone a letter?
With all the electronic means of communication today, writing anything with a pen and paper has become passé to say the least.
But to write someone a letter is about more than just formality – it’s about sincerity. It means setting aside time to gather your thoughts and convey your admiration and appreciation for the recipient who will read it. How often do we do that?
I mean with all the social channels, text messages, emails, online shopping, entertainment news and viral videos you need to attend to at any given moment, how would you find the time?
For those addicted to our technological culture, I offer you a real-world example of how impactful it can be to write someone a letter.
My grandfather was a quiet man, who rarely showed his emotions to those around him.
I remember on my 22nd birthday, besides the appropriate birthday card and a $20 bill from my grandparents, I found something more. There inside was a sheet of paper neatly folded and tucked behind the card.
As avid members of their local AARP Chapter, my grandparents were assigned the following task, which my grandfather completed:
“Recently it was suggested that to bridge the generation gap between the older and younger Americans, we (the older Americans) should write letters to their children and grandchildren. So, we have chosen you as the first recipient of messages from your elders.”
It was a one-page letter on AARP stationary – double-spaced and no doubt typed by my grandmother, who was prolific in her use of the now antiquated typewriter.
It was a letter of encouragement, of praise, but most of all support for the future.
He spoke about memories, survival and “a pleasant child with an ever-ready smile.” He remembered creativity, laughter and accomplishments I myself had forgotten about.
He believed in my hopes and my dreams, urging me to “have patience and determination, and above all never, never lose the ambition to try harder and to go further.”
By simply living, I somehow managed to profoundly affect him. It surprised me how much of my life had touched his – creating cherished memories, which inspired him to write me this letter.
It’s been twenty years since I received that letter, which I still keep safely tucked away in a drawer for easy access. From time to time, when I need a little encouragement, I open up my grandfather’s letter and gain a sense of where I’ve been, who I am and those who loved me unconditionally.
Today, our forms of communication have changed drastically, and not for the better.
And while I realize the cost of a stamp has increased in recent years, it’s an unexpected way to sit in silence, gather our thoughts and tell someone who may not know just how much they mean to us.
Put down your cell phone, spend the 49 cents and write someone a letter – someone who’s inspired you, supported you or just been there to listen when no one else was.
At first, the idea may seem futile and trite. But I assure you, this one simple gesture will be cherished for a lifetime.