It’s no secret that in today’s day and age, we don’t like it when things take a long time. We like things to be instantaneous, meaning, when we communicate, we mostly do so through emails, texts and Snapchats, dozens (maybe hundreds, for some of us) of times a day. We want our Wi-Fi to be speedy and if there’s no Wi-Fi at all… forget it! I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, but as a generation, we don’t really take things slow anymore.
A friend of mine recently left for basic training for the Coast Guard, meaning our frequent texts and weekly FaceTime sessions would be put on hold for eight weeks. And though I couldn’t call him, or text him, he gave me his address and told me to write him as often as I could. At the time, my relationship with the U.S. Postal Service had been pretty one-sided, with me only checking my mailbox if I had been expecting a package, and never writing anyone or sending anything literally ever. But, this was one of my best friends, and I wanted to help the time pass quickly. So, for the past three weeks, I have been handwriting letters nearly every day. I’ve grown to really enjoy it and the contrast its slowness provides in my everyday life. Now I think it is something everyone should try to do, too.
1. It’s very cathartic.
If I’m honest, one of the best parts about writing every day is that it is sort of like writing in a diary. It’s not that same immediate, short, back-and-forth effect that texting provides, with those mini paragraph rant sessions we all go through sometimes. You know, the ones where you’re typing furiously in the back of your lecture hall, trying to give your best friend The Tea of the day. Instead, I get to write about my day, and ask questions, and take my time while I do so (although the taking my time is also due to how messy my handwriting gets if I speed through, but you get my point). It has become a really relaxing way to unwind. I just pop on my headphones, listen to some music, pull out my notebook and write. No interruptions, no distractions. It’s just me, my thoughts and a pen on paper.
2. It’s fun.
If you’re anything like me, you know how exciting it is to be a little extra now and then. Something as dramatic as writing letters every day to my friend in the Coast Guard, like I’m in some sort of Nicholas Sparks movie, is enticing enough on its own to convince me to write letters more often. In addition, anyone who has never received anything in the mail knows the simple excitement of opening up your mailbox and getting a little surprise. Whether it’s being the recipient of that surprise, or being the one providing that little gift for someone else, the whole process is just so wholesome and enjoyable.
3. It’s a simple kind of time travel.
I’d never really taken the time to consider how things worked before there were cell-phones and things to make communication so instantaneous. Taking the time to write the letters gave me the time to think about how people used to write letters constantly, because it was all they had. In museums and in old letters, you see these pages with worn creases, and beautiful penmanship, and you realize there was such an art to writing letters, and such a personal touch to it. Writing my own letters these past weeks has been a fun dip into the past, giving me some more appreciation for what a letter meant 10 years ago, or 100 years ago, and all those things those letters might have said, as well as all the places they traveled through to get to whomever they were written for. And maybe I’m getting way to into this, (like I said, I’m a little dramatic) but you have to admit, it’s pretty cool to think about.
Try it for yourself!
If you don’t already have some sort of a pen pal, I highly recommend it. Even if it just means writing a friend at another school or writing home to your family, the recipients will appreciate it so much, and you will feel so good when you are writing them. I started off with the intention of just writing to my friend for those eight weeks while he is in basic training, but now it is a habit that I would like to keep up even when the texts and the FaceTime calls come back, and it is a tradition that I would like to start with other friends as well. So, grab some paper, and a pen, get some envelopes and stamps, and just write. I promise it’s worth it.