I’ve always been enamoured with handwritten letters. There’s a certain romance with the handwritten word that simply does not exist in an email or a text. You cannot hold a text or an email close to your heart the way you can a letter. In comparison, a text feels like a steely cold finger, whereas a letter feels like a hug.
I have something that I call ‘Correspondence Sundays,’ where I sit at my writing desk, cup of tea to hand, with an array of coloured envelopes and a writing pad. Classic FM is playing in the background. I write to my friends and family; I tell them about my day and the thoughts that have been running through my mind. But since the virus hit, along with social distancing, my letter-writing is no longer restricted to Sundays; I write letters most days. It’s my way of cheering up my friends and my way to document this strange existence that we find ourselves in.
Many letters have been written in isolation; including prisoners who have forged great friendships from writing in their cells. There’s a level of introspection needed when a letter is written; a certain amount of soul-searching is required. There’s a pregnant pause before pen hits paper as we search for words and meaning. I have found this helpful at this difficult time that is filled with anxiety and uncertainty. This hesitant and rather minuscule pause demands that I face, with some clarity, my predicament. My brain scuttles around trying to find the right word and the correct description for what I’m feeling. This is like therapy – but not so much hard work.
Although I have not abandoned emails and text messaging, my letters transfer so much more of me than the other forms of communication. My handwritten letter is laced with an intangible imprint of my whole being. It really is my own personal stamp. It houses my personal thoughts, fears and desires, all written in swirls and curves by my own hand. Once the letter is written and sealed in an envelope, the sketching of my mind’s workings are locked in, transported to my chosen recipient. And upon opening the letter, parts of me spill out of the envelope and onto the hands of the reader – and I am held in a way that I never thought possible until I wrote a letter.
Letter-writing is a gymnasium for the mind. So much is exercised while writing as we wrestle with emotions and sweat out our fears. We are all storytellers and narrators with a starring role. So, it puzzles me when people say they cannot bring themselves to write a letter. There’s an inexplicable fear that paralyses people, that makes them afraid of putting pen to paper.
What’s great about sending a handwritten letter from you is that all you have to be is you. The world does not have many F. Scott Fitzgeralds – and that’s OK. We’re not all born writers and neither do we all want to be. The only thing your letter demands of you is to be yourself. A letter from you may not be a letter from a great writer and that’s more than fine, as that’s not the criteria for being a letter writer.
It’s really quite simple: just write, and I promise you that there’s nothing quite as wonderful as receiving your letter. It’s a small joyful moment, and that’s what the world is made of – a series of small joyful moments. Never underestimate the power of a single moment.
In these strange and bizarre times, some people may be afraid of sending letters because of the virus. Although there has been no NHS warning against sending letters, nor from the Royal Mail, some may still be cautious. There is a way of sending that letter without posting it. You write your letter, take a picture of it and send it. Yes, it won’t be the same, but you still get all the benefits of writing it. It is still a unique expression of you and it is still sent with love. You can still choose the paper you want to write the letter on; you still have your own handwritten words and it can still convey all the warmth of a letter that’s been posted.
More than ever, it’s important for us to write and express ourselves: this is, after all, an introspective time. We have much time to think and write. Let us not let a virus stop us from writing letters. You don’t need to be a great author; you don’t even really need to post it. You just need to write it.
Looking for more wellbeing inspiration? Learn how to cope with change using mindfulness, find inner calm with our pick of the best mindfulness courses or discover the best mindfulness journals to help you live in the moment.
This article was originally published in In The Moment Magazine issue 38. Read In The Moment Magazine back issues on Readly. Featured photo from Pexels/Pixabay.