Email. IM’s. Blogs. Webcams. The ways for people to communicate instantly have blossomed over the past several years. It’s easy to chat or fire off a quick email when you want to say something. And certainly, that has its benefits. People who are geographically separated can be close through the Internet.
However, instant communication is something quite different from the art of the handwritten letter. Letter writing isn’t about communicating what happened; it’s about communicating how you feel about what happened. Writing by hand is much slower than typing, even for people who can’t touch-type. And the act of sitting down to write a letter invites contemplation, even relaxation. The Internet can’t offer that.
With the price of stamps continually rising, sending letters is becoming a hobby only the well-to-do can afford regularly. But even for those on tight incomes, is $0.47 really too expensive to be able to express yourself in a very beautiful way to a dear friend?
“But,” some say, “I don’t know what to write about.” They stare at a blank sheet of paper, keenly feeling the absence of any earth-shattering news that could warrant putting words to paper and sending it through the mail. Letter writing isn’t about earth-shattering news. It’s about the tiny details of life, things that often get overlooked.
You could say that letter writing isn’t even about the other person as much as it is about you. You must train yourself to notice things; the first robin of spring on the lawn, the way the rain hits against the windowpanes, the way frost silvers the grass in the winter. If you can bring yourself to write down such “meaningless” details, you soon find that they aren’t meaningless at all; they add a depth and a richness to life. You can use email to tell your friends about the birth of your first grandchild—but use letters to tell them about the way the corner other mouth quirks when she smiles or that sweet smell other hair as she snuggles up against you.
There is also another aspect to letter writing. Perhaps you still remember, as a child, how it felt to run out to the mailbox, and your excitement when you actually received something. Few people ever truly grow out of that. It still brings a smile to your face when you receive a little note in the mail from someone you love. It will bring a smile to your friends’ faces when they receive a letter in the mail from you. Think about it. Isn’t it worth a forty-seven cent stamp to make one person’s day a little better?