I had a most humbling conversation yesterday with a vivacious, 17-year-old young lady named Victoria. In discussions of homework, careers and her future opportunities, we somehow managed to cross into an abyss of sorts and completely unknown to her: letters. It seems that over the past 17 years of her relatively young life, she has never sent or received a handwritten letter. Have we advanced that far or, better yet, declined that far to the point that the handwritten word is no longer relevant?
Does our world consist solely of emails, texts and tweets? In an age where instant gratification takes center stage, are we robbing this generation and those to come of the art of the written word, as expressed and delivered from the heart? I'm talking about letters to friends and family and possibly someone you've never met, but can empathize with; not just love letters. I'm talking about writing in big bold printed letters -- or in cursive, God forbid -- and sharing words of encouragement, gratitude or just catching up.
How many of our children have held a handwritten letter in their hands and read it over and over again? How many have stored them away and pulled them out when they're having a really tough day? How many handwritten letters have we received from our children and how many have we kept? I dare say those of us fortunate enough to have received handwritten letters from our children, have kept them all. Why? Because it's personal, it's an extension of oneself as expressed in words.
My mother was an artist in many forms, from sketches to cooking to the art of letter writing. Through the years she earned a master's in heartfelt communication and eventually a Ph.D. in feel-good economics, all through her letters. She had the capacity to make hearts aglow with warmth and love through the handwritten word, throughout her 84 years. I recently found a poem written to my nephew on his birthday, not long after my dad, but more importantly, his granddad, passed away. She wanted my nephew to know how special he was and through the eyes of my dad, how proud he would always be of him. Along with the poem was a brilliant red cardinal, sketched in pen and ink. What a present, what a memory still after 18 years have passed. Needless to say, how many of us would still have an email or text of that special day after all this time?
Don't you think it's time we delve into the hearts and minds of those we hold most precious in our eyes and send them a handwritten note from our heart, encouraging them to reply in like kind to others in their circle; paying it forward if you will, handwritten words filled with sincerity and flowing from the heart. How best to teach children to communicate effectively, to feel loved immeasurably, to give unselfishly and to share some of the daily aspects of their lives. Not only children, but others in our own circles we hold most dear, but it must begin with us.
Let's not forget your sweetheart. I dare not exclude those whose presence makes our hearts aflutter. Find a compliment, write it down, then find another: write squiggly things like hearts and arrows and tell them you love them in a truly special way. Now put it in an envelope and mail it. Yes, mail it with a stamp. I would suggest you leave off the return address, or not. I guess that's up to you.
Join me in pledging over the next few weeks to hand-write a letter or two, to friends or family, to whomever, that could use our heartfelt words for encouragement, laughter, warmth or even a brief smile. Then write me and tell me how it felt to write again, to share again, to feel the warmth of the written word in your hands again.
Thank you for joining me in this endeavor. I'll gladly share the comments with you later this month. Feel empowered; be empowered, because we're all swimming up this stream together.