I found letters to friends, relatives and lovers. Reading the letters was like having a window into the hearts and minds of the writers. I was fascinated.
According to the website for Emily Dickinson “...She distinguished herself as a writer of letters, which she regarded as a ‘joy of Earth’ (L960). Cryptic and allusive in style, dazzling in verbal effects, and sensitively attuned to her recipients, Dickinson was a prolific and gifted epistolary artist.”
It occurred to me that letter writing is a lost art form these days. I thought back trying to think of the last time I'd written a personal letter. I couldn't remember.
One of the not-so-good things about the Internet is that the quality of communication has, for the most part, deteriorated.
These days, most people send emails, texts or a comment on Facebook and call it communicating. I'm as guilty as anyone in this regard.
The down side to this form of communication is that it rarely takes much thought.
Granted, not all communications require:
My Dearest Friend, I hope this email finds you in good health and lofty spirits; “But C U 2Nite XXXOOO,” is a bit thin, wouldn’t you agree?
When I was in the Army, I wrote letters daily, and I couldn’t wait for mail call each morning. There’s nothing like going to the mailbox, reaching in and pulling out a hand-addressed envelope with a letter or handwritten card from a dear friend.
I have a box in my office where I keep the hand-written letters I receive, and from time to time, I open up the box, pull out a letter, and read it. The words are richer and seem to come alive each time I read them.
When’s the last time you felt like that when reading an email or text? When Jilda and I were working on the things we wanted to accomplish this year, one of the things we both wrote, without conferring before hand, was to write cards and letters to those people that mean a great deal to us in our lives.
This morning when we headed out for a doctor’s visit, we both had letters in our hand.
“Bills?” I asked. “No, I’m sending cards to some of our friends,” she said. Mine was a letter to an old Army buddy I haven’t communicated with in 20 years.
A hundred years from now when people look through the artifacts of our lives, I’m not sure they’ll be as impressed with my words as I am with the words of Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson and Willa Cather, but still I hope readers, when they read my words, get a sense of how much friendship means to me.
Do yourself a favor and writer a letter to a friend today.