I often have people telling me how nice it is that I still write letters and that they wish they could also do it, but have no one to write to. What amazes me is that this is not an uncommon thing, nor it is had to find a recipient. I learnt to write and send letters in school, and from then my friends and I started to communicate this way – even though we lived in the same town. There was something exciting about getting an invitation or a few notes in the mail. With that being said, I don’t consider a letter something that comes only through the post. I write to friends and give them the envelope myself, mainly because I feel like I can express myself better about important topics when I write.
Sure, it is easier and a lot more practical to send and email, but it doesn’t compare. A hand written letter is a lot more personal; you can touch it, you’ve put part of yourself – your handwriting – in it, you can attach mementos, and you can keep it near you. It may be easier to ready something that’s been typed on the computer, but your handwriting can be affected by your emotions, which can be followed through by the context. In many ways, a physical letter is a lot more personal.
I’ve kept all the letters I’ve been sent to, and every time I decide to read them, it takes me back to the time that they were written. I’m not just reading my friend’s piece of paper, I’m reading part of my 14 years old friend, something that she’s written down all those years ago, in ink and paper of the same age. And when I miss someone, I feel closer to them by touching where they once touched. Think about a greater scale: just compare how it feels like to read a transcribed letter from someone of importance in contrast with holding the real document in you hands, analysing every single aspect of it. You get a lot more this way.
Before the technology we have available now existed, everything was done in a written form. Even now, a document may be printed, but you will always have to enter your signature manually, because that’s part of your identity and a proof of who you really are. Is there a more obvious way to explain why letters are as personal are they are? A whole document that was put together manually by a person. Not only that, but letter writing can also be considered a form of art; how you lay it, the details, the paper, the formalities, the content, and even small things such as drawings along the text or on the corners. Not to mention that a digital letter can be easily lost, but a physical one can last forever if it’s properly looked after.
Going back to the details, consider the carefully chosen paper and envelope, the colour of the pen, the stamps; what does it say about the sender? Or the excitement of getting it through the mail, when it finally arrives and you first open the sealed envelope and read fresh news of someone who’s dear to you. They may not be there, but that small piece of paper makes you feel like they are, in a way, right there with you.
To all the people who told me that they have no one to right to, I’d like them to think about friends and family they might have abroad or living in a different town. In case they don’t have any, there are many ways someone can find a pen pal willing to exchange letters with a stranger. There are websites you can go to and even groups directed to people who are willing to communicate with strangers abroad. Consider these things and give it a go.
But how about you? Do you have the habit of writing letters? What are your thoughts on this subject?