A few weeks ago I was having a look for something in what is commonly known as the junk cupboard and came across a bag. I peered inside that bag and what I found kept me seated on my sofa for hours, for the bag was full of old letters.
Letters from my friend Helen from when she used to get sent to Scotland for the summer when we were at primary school, letters from people declaring love, letters from people saying why they were annoyed with me, letters from people who had missed me, letters from people telling me about their summer holiday in other parts of the world, a whole array of letters that spanned various times in my life.
This bag of letters was filled with tales of my past, from people I hadn't seen or heard from in years. What all these letters had in common is that they all cease not long after I left university in 1999. I wracked my brains as to why this could be, I still had friends who had travelled, I still had people who since this time had declared love for me, been annoyed with me and been travelling for extended periods. Then it dawned on me that the reason the letters had stopped was we all had email, mobile phones to text from and now Facebook and Twitter with which to communicate. The thought that the art of letter writing was dead left me feeling quite sad. I don't keep all my emails and can't imagine ever rediscovering them and feeling the way I did about finding old letters.
With a sense of sorrow about this lost art I decided to do something about it and yesterday for the first time in years I wrote a letter to a friend. A letter that as we speak is on it's way to that persons doormat. The friend I chose to write to doesn't live that far away and we communicate quite a lot and see each other, but I know they will appreciate the gesture.
I found the whole process very theraputic and quite personal, far more so than a status update on Facebook or a comment on somebody's wall. I also love the feeling that tomorrow morning that when picking up the post and going through the bills and junk mail a smile will come to my friends face as she realises that there is a letter especially for her, not wanting anything (except perhaps a reply). If the response is positive I may continue this practise and see how many replies I get and I encourage you to do the same.
Happy letter writing folks.