bit of a head’s up – This is going to be one of those essays where
I need to wander around for a bit, connecting some seemingly random
thoughts in order to ultimately arrive at my moment of realization.
and I were having a debate a few weeks ago. Nothing too significant.
And, as is the case far more often than not when we debate, she
had the advantage of evidence and history and facts and all sorts
of similarly irrelevant and unimportant items on her side. (Which
also never seems to sway me much from putting on at least some
type of devil’s advocate showing, and this was no different.)
very basic elements of the story involved sending out some thank
you notes and consideration of the importance for writing these
out by hand. My entire defense of not picking up a pen was founded
on a very simple truth. One which I believe was the most incredibly
important of all.
handwriting isn’t atrocious.
isn’t good enough to call atrocious.
many days, I need to offer improvements to bring it to a level
that would qualify as legible. If I could accomplish that on a
regular basis, we could then discuss how I might best work on
raising the quality to something one might consider atrocious.
so, in developing these thank you notes, I had taken the time
to produce what I felt were really good letters. I put thought
and time into each one. I sat at the computer, typed them out,
reread them and made corrections, and then packaged them up with
arrived for me about two weeks ago. Mom sent it. Inside was an
article she clipped from the paper about something she thought
I might enjoy seeing.
didn’t exist when I was in college.
That’s a lie. I’m not so old that chisels and rocks were being
used to take notes when I was in college. We did have computers.
But you would barely recognize them, and the vast majority (meaning
massively vast majority) of students did not have computers.
people had email accounts, and even fewer had ever heard of a
product called Windows.
distance telephone calls cost money. A LOT of money.
the basic approach to the world was simple: (1) Send a letter.
(2) Wait 4-7 days for response.
college years was a time when my love and appreciation for mail
skyrocketed. For the cost of only some of the change in my pocket,
the U.S. Postal Service would bring an envelope from me at school
to home… down the east coast… across the country. Every two or
three days, the U.S. Postal service would drop off a card or letter
or other thoughtful collection from family and friends.
a variety of reasons—even beyond the three noted items, and primarily
writing out the thank you notes while wading through our address
book to send them—it occurred to me that I miss sending and receiving
mail. And, worse than that, especially given the advances in technology,
I have fallen woefully and shamefully out of touch with many incredible
result was some time here and there invested in thoughts of how
to improve things. And I think I have an answer.
going to start buying more stamps.
ok… stay with me.)
month, I plan on buying a book of stamps. That’s twenty stamps.
And over roughly four weeks, I will use each one. In some cases,
to send a letter. In a few, to send a card. And every so often,
I might put together an item or two that reminds me of someone
and ship it off.
don’t expect that I’ll see much of an increase in materials I
gather from the mailbox each day. Perhaps a few extra texts and
assorted emails. (Which would, on its own and even without return
letters, be incredible.) My hope is that it becomes a habit for
me, and I continue sending things out well into the future.
the action a stamp pays for… moving a letter from sender to recipient…
the cost itself is ridiculously low. And yes, I say that fully
understanding that with an email account the cost from point a
to point b could be argued as free. But think about those thank
you notes (and such) for a moment…
was the last time you received a communication from a friend in
the mail? And let’s remove holidays and birthdays from the equation.
Again, when was the last time?
would you react to a “thinking of you” or “miss you” card from
someone special that you hadn’t heard from in several months (or,
about this scenario: You wrap up some type of personal accomplishment.
A few days after it takes place and gets announced, an envelope
arrives from a friend. Inside is an article about it, clipped
from a newspaper, with the word “congratulations” written in the
so, yes, I’m going to start buying more stamps. I’m going to send
out a few more letters and cards and such. I’m going to try to
strengthen my communication and connection with family and friends.
invite you to do the same.
the way… for those that may be reading this and don’t see mail
arriving from me in the near future, please don’t panic. I don’t
have any specific plan for approaching this. Whimsy would be one
of the best adjectives I could use to describe my motivations
and to-do list. I don’t know that my own parents will see an increase
in mail from me as a result of these efforts.