THE SUMMER I WROTE LETTERS
AT&T’s famous slogan, “Reach out and touch someone” first aired in the spring of 1979.
Now, almost 40 years later, with a new slogan, “mobilizing your world”, communication and connecting has become so constant, even instant, through social media and advancing technology that “reaching out and touching someone” is often taken for granted. Very rarely anymore does it involve a “telephone” (not to be confused with a “cell phone”) and the decline in handwritten mail via the United States Postal Service is greatly measurable.
So, when my son took a wilderness living, summer camp job 2.5 hours away from home that promised no cell phone use except on his 1 day off every 2 weeks (and sketchy reception & signal strength at best), I settled into the discipline of writing letters.
At first it was strange, and even challenging. It required waiting! Who waits anymore? It required patience! Patience hardly seems a virtue in 21st century America. Each and every letter required individual attention, quiet contemplation, creativity, information and most importantly……….
a sense of expression, a satisfaction, and even a surrender, that only gets tapped when convenience is stripped away.
They say “receiving handwritten letters” (or typed in some cases) is one of life’s simple joys. I find that to be true, and given Matt’s feedback, I’m pretty sure he finds it to be true too.
Interestingly, science has linked expressive (letter) writing to better moods, reduced stress and an overall improved sense of well being. In as much as social media connects us and technology advances our potential for learning and communicating, so a summer of writing letters has become a great conduit to give me pause, not to let convenience overshadow some of the deeper, richer attributes and gifts that might otherwise be missed in the clamor of the instant and the hurry.
When I’d much prefer face to face or voice to voice conversation but realize it isn’t an option, slowing down and taking time to connect in a way that says I really care becomes priority. In the process of digging deep, I learn new things about myself, I find a quiet inner strength and beauty that wasn’t recognized before.
I will always be a great utilizer of technology and am extremely grateful for its many benefits. But for today, I am thankful for the summer I wrote letters. I hope for each one of you reading this, you too have a summer of “writing letters” somewhere along the way, that you too would be more intentional about reaching out and touching someone through the lines on a page and resourcing and rediscovering the potential of deep personal growth and satisfaction that comes,
for it isn’t only in the receiving, but also in the writing of those letters that life’s simple joys are rediscovered.