Isn’t it a nice surprise to open the mailbox and find a card or letter nestled among the bills and junk mail? In this day and age of Facebook, e-mail, and text messages, a handwritten note is rare. Letter writing has become a lost art. But did you know that putting pen to paper can be therapeutic? Writing can help us process our thoughts and feelings. It allows us to release negative feelings in a constructive way and to reframe our view of a difficult situation. As the author Elizabeth Hardwick stated, “Letters are above all useful as a means of expressing the ideal self…In letters we can reform without practice, beg without humiliation, and shape embarrassing experiences to the measure of our own desires.” Even a simple note recounting our day can help us find joy and meaning in the simple, everyday things that we often overlook or take for granted. Writing letters is a wonderful way to release feelings of anxiety and depression, reflect and reconnect. I know that for me personally, it’s easier to express myself with pen in hand than it is sitting down in front of a keyboard. My sincerest sympathy, deepest gratitude, or truest thought seems more genuine when conveyed through my own handwriting.
Walt Whitman wrote, “The art of art, the glory of expression, and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.” It doesn’t take much time and costs no more than a postage stamp, but the simple gesture of sending a card or letter can do so much to brighten someone’s day. We all want to know that we’re in someone’s thoughts, that they care about and appreciate us. A letter provides us with insight to another’s thoughts and feelings. This amazing gift can be enjoyed each time we read their message. Our memory of a conversation can change or fade with time, but the words in a letter remain the same. Letters share the essence of who we are and tell the stories of our relationships. They stand as historical records, giving us a window to our past. The Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh wrote that letters transform ourselves, others, and therefore the entire world…”Some letters may take the whole of our lifetime to write.” I encourage you to rediscover the art of letter writing and start the letter of your lifetime today.