Thursday, September 25, 2014

Signed Sealed and Delivered

I am a great believer of the the power of the written word. Electronic communication has stepped in and taken over our world. I am grateful in so very many ways. The convenience and ease of communicating has meant that I hear from many people that I wouldn't hear from otherwise. The flip side of that is that my mailbox is lonely.

I moved away from my childhood home when I was nine years old and I kept in touch with my friends by letter. I can remember the ease with which my pen flew as I chipped away at my shell of shyness. I felt more self assured within the safe confines of writing. I received one letter from my Grade 4 class, I remember a letter from my sister asking me if I had become a "city slicker" yet and I continued to keep in touch with a cousin and at least one friend utilizing the only means of communication available to a nine year old at that time.

Pen, paper, an envelope and a six cent stamp (for some reason six cents came immediately to my fingertips and when I googled the question "How much did it cost to mail a letter in Canada in 1970?", my answer appears to be correct! Wow!! My fingers are smart!) started my love affair with the postal system and I was hooked. There is nothing (to this very day) that beats finding a hand written letter in the mailbox.

I moved back (close to) 'home' again when I was twenty seven years old. The year was 1988, long distance telephone calls were a luxury item (you paid by the minute and it was insanely expensive to call during daytime hours). Pen and paper saved me from myself once again. I wrote letters to friends and family and kept the lines of communication open with many.

It was a time of great discomfort as this was also the year that marked the end of my marriage. My faith in justice and humanity wavered like never before. I wrote at least one letter that I wish that I could take back.

Words written on paper have the ability to cut like a knife. Over and over and over again. I was reminded of this fact when my mom stumbled across an envelope that is over 50 years old. Words scribbled on the face of the envelope hold hateful memories of a time that should have been long forgotten. 

I did that to another human being. I wrote words that I can never take back. If ever there was to be a letter lost in the abyss of a dead letter file, why could it not be that one? I'm sorry will never erase the venom with which those words were written.

In the years since that time I have tried very  hard to continue the tradition of sending handwritten cards and notes whenever the spirit moves me. The convenience of sending an email trumps snail mail 99% of the time. My logic is that an email can be sent any time of the day or night and the person on the receiving end will only open it up when they have the time and energy to do so. I can type much faster than I can write. I can cut, paste and edit on the computer without defacing an entire page. Thus, even my 'handwritten' letters are typed 95% of the time. Thus, the 'spirit' does not move me (as much as I wish it did) these days.

I spend my energy writing, even when I have little to expend. Writing has been my therapy, my best friend and the best benefit the habit of writing has brought into my world, is the friends I have kept in contact with over the course of time.

Distance and time can be diminished by sending a card, letter or an email to a friend. As exciting as it is to find a personal email in my inbox, there is nothing like finding an envelope addressed with the familiar handwriting.

I know it is getting costly to send a letter in the mail. But in a time where we think nothing of spending (almost) two dollars for a cup of coffee, I guarantee you - you get more 'bang for your buck' by investing in the cost of a stamp.

Reach out and write someone. You will make their day...

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