You already know my name. It’s Carol Ann, but I wish I knew your name so I could address this letter to you properly. Yes, it is a letter that you’re reading even though it’s not the typical letter I write each day – the kind that uses paper, ink, postage stamps and sealing wax.
We have something in common, you and I, we both have an interest in the Art of Letter Writing. I absolutely love letters – to write them and to write about them, to receive them, and to share my enthusiasm for them with others.
Do you write many letters? I figure I’ve written at least 10,000 letters so far. That number was easy to come up with because for the last 20 years or so I’ve been writing one letter each morning with my coffee before I do any other thing, and very often I write more letters later in the day.
If I have a boring job to do (like cleaning the house) I’ll make the job more tolerable by giving myself permission to take breaks here and there and in those breaks I’ll write a page of a letter. Do you do things like that?
I’m sure I could happily write letters all day long if I allowed myself to do so, but I do enjoy a few other things. well maybe more than a few, so at this time in my life I limit my letter writing. The day may come when I feel this limitation is unnecessary.
After all, isn’t it Ralph Waldo Emerson, my very own “dead friend”, who said “To find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of golden hours is wisdom.” So perhaps it would be a very wise move for me to grant myself permission to write more letters even now. What do you love to do? What could be more golden than filling our days with our most favorite things?
You’re reading these words of mine and I’m happy you are, sharing really does double my joy, but perhaps one of these days you’ll be inspired to write of a few words of your own and send those words off to me. I’d love that! You might write a comment at the end of this post or take out paper and a pen to write a real old-fashioned missive, one I could keep in a box and refer to time and time again, saving the letter for my future grandchildren to enjoy some day.
It seems to me that our task on earth is to find our deep soul work and throw ourselves into it head-long. For me letters play a big part in that soul work for as I delight in the writing and receiving of letters carrying on this beautiful old art form, helping to keep the art alive, I am also able to share many other joys with lots and lots of people.
We’re all in this life together and the more connected we are to each other the richer our lives become. In letters we share the daily comings and goings of life, but so much more. In letters we share ideas and philosophy. My old letter friend, Harry, was always putting beautiful, thought-provoking ideas into my head. One idea I liked very much, one that I’m forever sharing with others is this:
WORK AND WORRY ARE STURDY WEEDS, BUT JOY REQUIRES CULTIVATION.
What joys are you cultivating? Being a gardener I can’t help but relate the cultivation of my joys to the cultivation of my herbs and flowers. My favorite plants don’t just happen, but strangely the weeds in my garden do. So it is with our joys. Developing joys into passions take time and effort. First, we need to identify our favorite things just as we need to plant flower seeds. Then we need to work those favorite things just as we need to work and fertilize the soil around our plants. This takes time and effort. I’ll often ask people what passions they’ve cultivated and very often they just give me a blank stare.
What does this have to do with the Art of Letter Writing? Well, good letters ask questions and get one thinking. Writing letters provide us with that quiet time to think, ponder and reflect. In today’s world it’s not so easy to find ourselves alone in quiet. Thomas Edison would go to a lake holding a fishing pole. There was no bait on that pole, but people left him alone since they assumed he was fishing and needed quiet. Well, he did need quiet, but not to fish. He needed quiet to think.
In writing our letters we are giving ourselves quiet alone time to think, but we’re also connecting to others at the same time. Lord Byron, another favorite “dead friend”, put this idea beautifully when He said, “Only in letter writing do we have solitude and society simultaneously”. We’re alone with our thoughts, but we’re also sharing them with our letter friend. Our friend receives those thoughts, ponders them, adds his or her own, perhaps includes a few more questions for discussion, and the end result is a rich mix for both of us.
People always ask me what in the world I can find to talk about in a letter. They forget a letter is a conversation and if our mind happens to be blank one day all we have to do is read our friend’s letter and respond to the ideas we find there.
Henry David Thoreau, (yes, another “dead friend” – I have lots of them) said, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with successes unexpected in common hours.”
Time alone spent in reflection can help us get in tune with ourselves, and how nice it is if we can also get in tune with others at the same time. Letter writing provides us with this opportunity. It’s no wonder I find writing letters such a complete treat and maybe you do too. It gives me a time to sit and rest, a time to ponder the life I have and the life I want to have, and it offers me the opportunity to share my life with others.
SHARING DOUBLES THE JOY AND DIVIDES THE SORROW
So when I find a letter in my mail box addressed just to me, I’m delighted! Someone was thinking of me. Someone wanted to share. I can’t wait to read what they have to say. I’m delighted to sit myself down and ponder their thoughts. I’m then anxious to reply, though life does get in the way at times for a quick reply.
What activities fill you with delight? Are you cultivating your joys? Are you sharing them? Are you achieving the wisdom that comes from living hours that are golden? Are you advancing confidently in the direction of your dreams? If you’re a letter writer I bet the answer to all these questions is a big YES! And these questions are great to include in your letters to others for questions like these will help your friends focus on some of the most important issues of life. Maybe one of those next letters you write will be going off to ME! I hope so. I’d love to hear from you. Really!
Here’s wishing you golden days filled with wisdom.