In this age of instant messaging and emails, a letter written and received seems so archaic. What is the purpose of something that takes so long to arrive, when a whole conversation can be completed in minutes? Why take the time to write a letter when composing one on your device is far quicker and more convenient? Is letter-writing still relevant?
It is this: a letter is a tangible piece of the person you are talking to.
Writing a letter is sharing your story, a snapshot of your life at that moment in time. As the recipient of the letter, it is the next best thing to having your friend over for a visit. You accept this representative into your home, and share your time and thoughtful consideration with it. There is still something to be said about giving or having something tangible that echoes someone’s thoughts and sentiments.
The waiting itself is an exercise in patience and anticipation, making the conclusion of the exchange more significant and gratifying. It is this particular method of connecting to another person that makes letter-writing still an essential part of our societal norms.
The process of sitting down, choosing your pen, ink, and paper, and writing is an act of creation and collaboration. Using these tools, you craft your thoughts and emotions into something that can be shared with a particular person. It also requires of you a certain degree of trust and openness that your letter will be read, and a response will be given. This whole practice is a far cry from cold screens and predictive text.
Expressing yourself in handwritten form seems the more appropriate medium for fervent love, profound sympathies, and genuine gratitude. It is a testament to how much care has been given just to communicate with another.
Nowadays, we are spoiled for choice. Within our easy reach lies a veritable cornucopia of information and ideas. It is an abundance that most of us take for granted, with a transience that is highlighted by how easy it is to touch the “DELETE” button. Letters, on the other hand, can stay with us physically. They can be kept and treasured, passed on as a legacy for our descendants, like those that tell the story of a great love or a private correspondence with a historical figure. Some biographies are based on such letters, bestowing a more personal and genuine voice to their subjects. This is the kind of writing that holds so much of our interest, for it is the natural, unpretentious exchange between friends or family.
During times like these, when the world seems so easily connected yet individuals still feel isolated; a letter received in the mail from a friend or family member is all the more precious. It is a tactile reminder of how dear that person is, enough for the sender to take the time to write it down and post it. Even if it arrives as a piece of the past, a little creased perhaps from its travels, it is still an enduring token of love and affection.
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Written by Lekz Umali
Check out her art on Instagram!