Pen, Paper, People

This is going to sound like bragging, and maybe it is:

We’ve been under stay-at-home orders for two and a half weeks, and I haven’t been bored for one single second.

Even in my pre-pandemic life, at any given moment I had a mental list of at least a dozen or so highly entertaining diversions I longed to enjoy, if only I was given a few moments of time between scheduled activities. Awesome things—like practicing Spanish, painting pictures, writing stories, catching up on TV shows, attempting Pinterest crafts, and organizing closets (yes, for some of us that totally counts as fun.)

By now, you’ve probably read a score of articles with titles like “10 Ways to Entertain Your Kids During a Pandemic” or “How to Reclaim your Productivity from COVID-19”. This is not going to be another.

Instead, I’m going to focus on one particular thing that I’ve been enjoying during the forced downtime of virus-related shelter-in-place protocols: writing letters.

Do you remember the last time you got a letter in the mail? I’m not talking about restaurant flyers or appointment reminders or even friendly birthday greetings from your insurance company, but honest-to-goodness personal correspondence from a human being you know, just for the purpose of sharing news and thoughts and emotions. It’s probably been a while, right? And yet, I bet you remember the feeling—that sense of pleasurable surprise when you see your name hand-lettered onto an envelope, the curiosity that makes you turn it over in search of the return address, the swelling anticipation as you carefully open it and unfold the pages within.

Perhaps, as you read the looping script, you imagine you hear the words in the voice of the one who wrote them, unpretentious and effusive, an invitation to enter into the moment in time where these very memories and thoughts were formed in the mind of the writer. Even if the writing style is stilted, though, or the penmanship hard to decipher, even if the grammar is atrocious, or the train of thought hard to follow, no flaws can detract from the main reward: the knowledge that someone, somewhere, sat down on purpose with a pen and paper, centered you—and you alone—in their mind‘s eye, and let the words fly. How cool is that?

Obviously, I dearly love to receive letters, so in that spirit, I have dedicated a good chunk of my quarantine time to writing them, so as to spread the delight around. I have a pen pal in Australia with whom I’ve kept up a steady correspondence, and I’ve also been trying to reach out by mail to friends I haven’t talked to in a while. What better time, right? Recently, I realized that I accidentally sent a letter to a dear friend’s outdated address; she has moved recently, and though the letter is currently MIA, I’m hoping that it will eventually find her or make its way back to me to be mailed again. It doesn’t matter. A personal letter is never really late. Like a wizard, it arrives precisely when it intends to, all the emotions contained within it safely intact.

Here’s the part where I encourage you to write your own letter. Don’t have anyone to write to? Have I mentioned that I love getting mail? Just drop me a note in the comments of this post and I can email you my address. Or hey!—I could write to you! Just use the Contact page to message me your information and I’ll happily add you to my correspondence. Let’s revive the joy of giving and receiving genuine, person to person, ink and paper letters in the mail, okay?

After all, the world has been forced to slow down for now. Maybe it’s a good thing for our hearts if we do, too.


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