A few days after moving to San Francisco, I wrote some letter to friends back home in Ireland. There was something about the whole process, physically writing out the words as opposed to just typing them in text, and knowing that it would be at least a week if not longer before my friends received the letters, as opposed to instantly over messenger or whatsapp or snapchat. I really enjoyed it, sending little cards or postcards or stickers that I’d found and thought would make a friend smile.
There’s something about writing. Beyond the therapeutic element, there is an intimacy, that goes deeper than any whatsapp call, than any text or snapchat message could ever go. You’re receiving written words that have been carefully thought through and pondered over and written out in a unique hand that nobody else but the person who you’re receiving the letter from could replicate, at least not exactly. A text message is a digital flick of generic type sent out into a virtual abyss, whereas a letter, words written on pen and paper, is the unique ink of genuine thought – there’s heart in the literally written word that cannot be captured in any other form of communication, not even face to face.
Often people write the things they wish they could say in person, or the things that they wanted to say but couldn’t. That’s why we have infamous love letters, sonnets, songs and poems, all things written that couldn’t be as well said. Sometimes, really a lot of the time, writing can tell us more than verbal speech itself. Even writing personal accounts of events or experiences can help us make sense of our own feelings about them.
I’ve written a few more letters and cards since the first batch. I’ve been sending bits back home to family and friends every once in a while, and I intend to keep it up. It’s a really nice thing, definitely for me, and, I hope, for those that receive the letters too.
Here’s just a little note about the importance of reaching out, about getting and staying in touch with the people that are important to you, whether they are in your life currently or were at some point before.