I was thinking the other day of how we are on the verge of losing the special legacy of hand-written love letters. With the booming popularity of email, texting, and other forms of technology for communication, it has become a novelty to write or receive a hand-written letter. It saddens me to think of the romantic historical discoveries that this is robbing us of; will future generations ever know the sweet surprise of finding packets of love letters with locks of hair hidden away in old trucks, bound together by a ribbon and smelling faintly of lavender or Evening in Paris perfume? It’s hard to imagine anyone finding an ancient hard drive tucked away in an attic, hacking into it, and finding old love emails…or finding someone’s old cell phone, searching through the messages and finding love texts (And how anyone could be romantic in 165 characters is beyond me. “Rses r rd vilets r blu sgr is swt & u r 2” just doesn’t cut it. Nor does i <3 u.). If such a thing were to happen, it’s obviously not as romantic as someone sitting amongst piles of old letters, photographs, dried flowers, and hats in their grandmother’s attic on a rainy day reading letters from their grandmother’s tragic war romance. The more I think about this day and age of virtual everything, I think we’re losing the joy of the tangible…I just heard about an iPhone app where you can “carve” the initials of yourself and your sweetheart (whom you probably met online) into a virtual tree – you can even choose from different kinds of bark. We’ve come a long way from the Sweetheart Tree.
This isn’t to say that technology is not a wonderful thing for closing the miles between people; I think it’s marvelous that a soldier in the Middle East can now use Skype and see his family in the U.S. face to face, or that missionaries can see and talk to their grandchildren even though they might be across an ocean. Facebook, email, and other ways of communicating over the internet keep me in touch with people that I wouldn’t ordinarily see or talk to otherwise, and they make the distance seem that much shorter between myself and my friends and family who are far away. I’m simply talking about the effect of the new ways that people keep in touch on a practice that for hundreds of years has been a very special, beautiful way for people to communicate. Letters preserve things that emails would simply delete. When we hold an old letter in our hand, we are holding a piece of history. The untold story that lies between the lines of a letter as it was being penned long ago can only be imagined – what made the writer’s hand slip and leave a mark there? What is beneath that scribbled out section?
Please excuse me if this ends up being a jumbled mess; it is late and my brain isn’t functioning as it should, but I hope that this these thoughts of mine will inspire you to take up your pen and write someone, leaving a little of your own history on a scrap of paper. There is nothing like receiving a hand-written letter in the mail. It doesn’t matter if it’s a love letter or just a note of encouragement or if you’re a good writer or a bad writer. Don’t let the flurry of today’s instant communication rob you of an experience that has been shared by apostles, statesmen, and poets alike. Please, don’t send someone a piece of virtual tree bark! Leave a legacy in a letter.
P.S. Come back tomorrow for a very special post! 😉
Image at top taken from http://saralondesworld.blogspot.com/2009/06/day-175-365-letters.html