On discovering a few old love letters, I started to think when was the last time I hand wrote a letter of any sort. Reading those letters I was transported to a time when feelings mattered so much, that they had to be written down and some how the fact those passionate words were in black and white on a page they were stronger and more personal. it is somewhat poignant that, whilst that love drifted away, the words still evoke memories of that time.
I remember writing to my old university pals whilst on the bus journey to work ( that was before the text and email), I doubt they were filled with anything really significant, but how I wish I’d kept those that were sent to me. They would have been a memento of that time of my life and what my now long-lost mates thought news worthy. Now out of touch with old friends, all I have are vague memories of those days. Interestingly this is the last time I think I hand wrote a letter. It’s amazing that whilst I confidently use a fountain pen for work, I find it hard to hand write anything personal to others. I even cringe at writing a birthday card whip round. There is definitely an art to it which I’m sadly losing.
On a training course recently I had to discuss my identity. Whilst to a large extent its down to our own life choices and experiences, you can not escape the large part that your heritage plays in its formation. It occurred to me that most of my knowledge about my past was handed down verbally and contained snippets of anecdotes, accurate or otherwise, that had been mentioned along the way. I realised this precious knowledge is hard to capture on the page but it is one of the important aspects of our identity. Maybe there has always been this social awkwardness about documenting family lives.
I wonder how significant the small detail we post on our statuses will become in later life. We don’t seem to have any problem communicating or thoughts and feelings this way. I urge you to think though, if we could use letter writing as another tier of communication which not only ensures our feelings are captured with some longevity but it also creates depth, as you have chosen to share them with someone. If any thing it would stop narcissistic journal writer from getting far to indulgent if they had to explain those thoughts to someone close to them. Also I think it would provide us with greater intimacy and leave a small legacy to enhance the heritage of your family. Even my great grandads’ saucy postcards written in war-time give me some bond with a guy i never met. Never underestimate the power of the hand written word.
P.S. Haven’t tried it yet but Lettrs.com is trying to revive long form communications with a website that encourages you to write the old fashioned way. You can also scan and upload your old letters too to store in your digital shoebox. Please report back if its any good as a digital halfway house.