I've been writing about "lost arts" lately (The Lost Art of Journaling and The Lost Art of Tea Parties) and Valentine's Day is the perfect time to write about another one of my favorite "lost arts:" letter-writing.
Words are powerful. They communicate great thoughts and ideas and deep feelings. We learn from words, we believe words and we live by the words we hear spoken back to us in our minds. Words can tear us down. And words can build us up.
Most people hold some words very closely in their hearts. Maybe it was something life-giving a parent, grandparent, or teacher said about you as a child that you cling to, hoping it's true. Maybe its the affirming words written to you by a friend in a card on an important day like a birthday or graduation or your wedding. Maybe it's the heartfelt passion scrolled out in a love letter from your spouse or significant other.
When written words touch us deeply, we usually hold onto them. Do you have a box or drawer where you keep special cards and letters?
This is our box of letters. It contains particularly meaningful birthday cards, encouraging postcards from loved ones abroad, homemade cards by our children and even a few love letters. Inside, there are even the letters we wrote each other to read the morning of our wedding day. It is a treasure chest of priceless value.
Have you ever thought about how amazing it is that forensic scientists can identify someone by their handwriting? Handwriting is personal and unique. Because of this, it connects us to the writer in a deep way. Haven't you ever found something written by an ancestor or deceased loved one and felt like they were almost there with you?
We share a lot of words online these days. Emails fly back and forth. We have entire conversations with friends over text messaging. And then there's Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I want to argue for the value of words that can be touched. (Because how many of us can even find that email or quote we saw online that meant so much to us? Maybe we tell ourselves we will print it off but we rarely do.)
This week, would you consider slowing down when writing your Valentines? Maybe even take the time you would spend hunting for the "right" card at the grocery store to just sit down with a blank sheet of paper. It's the words from your heart that matter more than the pithy saying in the card. Make it tangible. Something the recipient can hold and save. And forget your insecurities over your handwriting and write it out.
Happy Valentine's Day!