Just as Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey writes in her book, “A woman of independent means”, I have found that a rich life exists in letter writing, separate and untouched by life’s usual demands. I love letters. Maybe you do too. Letters make me happy — writing them, reading them, designing the stationery for the letters I write, or talking about letters to individuals and groups.
I feel that I have two lives: There’s my life with family, local friends, music work, and personal interests, interests like house, garden, cooking, entertaining etcaetera etcaeterorum. But then there’s my life in letters.
My letter life exposes me to a completely different set of people along with their various interests. I meet Hindu nuns and Harlem cops as well as people living in far off places that I have never and probably will never visit. These people and places become important to me. As I’ve mentioned before, I even make a lot of “dead friends” through letters, “dead friends” being people of the past whose letters I read and relate to. My “dead friends” seem quite alive and lively to me, more lively than a lot of living, breathing people I know because many people walking this earth lack spirit. My “dead friends” are loaded with spirit. In fact, they’re 100% pure spirit. And great friendship requires the sharing of spirit however and wherever we find it.
Most people of the past who could write did write letters, so it’s easy to find books filled with the letters of famous and accomplished people. As I read many of these letters it’s very easy to imagine that great artist, statesman or author is writing to me. (It really is good to use our imaginations. Do you use yours regularly? An imagination is a terrible thing to waste.)
Do you enjoy outings with friends? If you’re like me, outings for lunch with local friends offers spice to life, but I also enjoy outings with letter friends and “dead friends” too. These last two groups make no demands and can be delightful company on any outing. I will tour or shop just as long as I please and when it’s time for a coffee break or lunch I find a place with a quiet table and there take refreshment as I write or read letters. I’m always thinking of what my elegant “dead friend” Lord Byron said. I’ve mentioned his words to you before. Byron said only in letter writing do we have solitude and society simultaneously. He’s so right. I love to be with people and I love to be alone, but for me the most fun is to be alone with people and I can best experience this with letters.
I always make time for letters. You’ve heard the idea of eating dessert first. Well, my letter writing is the dessert in my day so I write one letter first thing every morning with a cup of coffee. Another time may be the perfect time for you to write your letters or do other favorite things, but finding and then guarding that time is most important if we expect to be happy. With care we really can keep our favorite activities separate and untouched by life’s usual demands.
So you see, letters are a big part of my daily happiness, but it’s funny, when people would ask me why I loved letters so very much I couldn’t come up with a reply in 50 words or less. I loved letters, yes, but how to explain the why? Then one day I found that answer. I was reading Steven Covey’s book, “First things first”.
Covey explained how we humans have physical, social, intellectual and spiritual needs. Some activities we choose will speak to one or another of these needs, but if we can find an activity that addresses two needs at once, or three, or even four, well, that is a very worthwhile activity and a synergy is created. And what is this synergy you may ask?
is a word which comes from the Greek meaning “working together”. It is the interaction of multiple elements in a system to produce an effect different from or greater than the sum of their individual effects.
That’s when it hit me! I love letter writing so very much because in one activity I address the physical, social, intellectual and spiritual elements of life all at the same time. Every day when I sit myself down, pick up pen and paper, and write an artful, thoughtful, caring letter to another human being I am exercising all aspects of my humanity in one delightful time-honored art form.
So now when people ask me why I love letter writing so much I tell them that letter writing is
A COMPLETE TREAT
it is a satisfying physical, social, intellectual and spiritual activity all in one.
Think about it. IT’S TRUE!