Monday, April 07, 2008

Letterwriting 501: "Your mailbox is empty"

Being a Healer/Idealist is not necessarily fun. Or is it meant to be, but there are perks and then there are disappointments. Sounds like the usual story that everyone seems to have. I am a person of expectations. More often than not my expectations, though not that excruciating, seem to get left in the dust of everyday life. For example, I just don't know why people cannot have the forethought to be on time for an appointment; it baffles me. And so, I remain stunningly baffled.

I suppose that we are all expectant of something, more or less as the case may be, but I have learned that disappointments can be reshaped into something other than, well, disappointment. A while back I issued a post regaling the wonders of letter writing, the old art that--thanks to texting and emailing--has gone by the wayside, as it were. And so I have been writing letters, sending them forward into the world, looking fine and on a mission...never to be heard from again. Sad fact, that.

Do people think that just because they receive a letter--hand written and stamped--that it doesn't merit a response, even a postcard? I know I sound rather piqued [can you tell I have been reading Jane Austen?] and even affronted, but there it is. I truly do love buying stationery and am particular about stamps to go with, but why do I continue to do it if no one responds? Part of me says "for the love of the language", and another part quietly and transparently whispers, "because I want someone to see me for me". I do it for both reasons, I confess. We tend to take one another for granted in this contemporary and modern life of ours. We look at the outward appearances and not so much on the inside. I think we are afraid to let others see who we really are, in all of our vulnerability and frailness. I'm tired of being afraid for those very reasons, and in my letters I give voice to the inward turnings of mind and spirit, to the life I wish to give to my garden, to my creativity, to my usefulness as part of the human element, h-8 [turn the 8 on its side for the proper symbol of infinity].

I write the way I think. Often I hear people say that "if only I could write like you", and I say, write the very way you think, with all the "uhmms" and "ahhhs" included, and you will not only write like me but more so yourself. As time goes by, you will supplant the awkward pauses and the sounds that go with them with real, meaningful words that reflect you. I know that the learning of language is an ongoing thing, why else do I spend so much blessed [sardonic tone] time in Barnes and Noble or the antiquarian book store downtown? Language and consequently writing is like a gourmet feast. There is always something more to try and to improve upon as each of our palates will always be different from the other.

So I am "wahhhing" about not the sending forth but the lack of reciprocity in regard to letters. To some it will seem petty, to others pitiable, but that is not what I want. I just want a letter from one of the many people I do write to, who claim they love receiving my letters but have not deigned to reply and bring me the joy of knowing I am being thought of even a little bit. I do believe I am worthy of a stamp [and I don't mean one on my foot...teehee!] as those I have written are likewise worthy.

Have you ever read the letters of some well-known literary personage, like Karen Blixen, who wrote "Out of Africa" and corresponded with her reticent friend and lover, Dennis Finch-Hatton? Or Winston Churchill and his wife? There are many published books of letters that convey what has for the most part, been lost to us in modern times. Communication. I encourage the reading of such literary collections for the edification of the mind as well as the restlessness of fingers considering the pen. Letters reveal us in ways nothing else can.

And what, one might ask, has this to do with the Episcopal Church? Absolutely nothing! That is the point, unless you want to write a letter to 815, or a "thank you" note to your priest or an usher, or to that quiet person sitting in the back of the church...you could make their day just by putting ink to paper.

4 comments:

Eileen said...

((((Catherine))))

Letters take effort...and it is very sad that nobody writes you a handwritten note back.

I'm the queen of email myself.

But, your point is well taken...it's good to hear "the other side of the story"

gartenfische said...

I have been reading Flannery O'Connor's letters (I highly recommend the book, The Habit of Being, in case you haven't read it). This has brought me to think recently about how much we have lost. With everybody sending e-mail, there won't be these great volumes of letters that people can learn from and be amused by. Instead we dash off our thoughts in ten seconds (have you noticed that many people don't even take the time to read an e-mail?).

As our world speeds up around us, it is becoming more and more acceptable to blow off even common courtesies. You are certainly worth a stamp and it is appalling that, in our world, it has become okay to leave you thinking you are not.

I think e-mail is still too new to cause many people to rebel against it, but I bet in ten years (or more), there will be a resurgence of letter-writing---probably a short lived fad. There will be books about how to write letters, and they will suggest adding drawings or leaves or other little items. There will be letter-writing classes. I am sure the time will come, but it will be short lived. Which makes me realize---at some point, there probably will not be a daily mail delivery service as there is now. It's primarily used for bills and junk mail these days. Bills can be accessed and paid online and we now get plenty of junk mail right in our inboxes. Packages can be delivered by several different companies.

Alas. . . .

Crimson Rambler said...

Since my laptop was stolen, thereby slowing down my access to email if not halting it altogether, I've written a lot more pen-and-paper letters...nice to get back to that!

Jan said...

I'll write you a letter, if you'll email me your address! I love letters and so few are written these days. Oddly, I just wrote a letter to the priest who baptized, confirmed, and married me long ago in Bellingham, WA.