Have you noticed how the tempo of modern life seems to be moving faster and faster? This is especially true in the area of communication. I’m all for new inventions, but must we throw out everything old in order to enjoy the new? Most people will say they don’t write letters because letters are just too slow! But what’s wrong with slow? People dashing around fast and furiously would do well to slow down now and then.
Many people enjoy hiking or taking leisurely walks through a park. I sure do, do you? I suppose you could drive through a park quickly, but that drive certainly wouldn’t be as satisfying and sensual an experience as a walk. When we walk we see nature up close. In walking we’re more able to appreciate the beauty around us. We enjoy the fragrance of nature. We stretch our legs and wake up our muscles. Our thoughts run freely as we walk and in this peaceful state creativity flourishes. We don’t need to take these walks, but if we partake in them our life is richer.
Well, just as no one is telling us we must take walks, no one is telling us we must write letters either, but people who have discovered both activities are surely richer for experiencing them. Both walking and letter writing give us great exercise, the kind of exercise we modern folks need to be at our very best. Walking gives us a healthy physical workout and writing a letter, though also physical, gives us social, intellectual and spiritual exercise as well .
Both walking and letter writing are truly work, but pleasurable work, and this work is good for us. But you know how work is. It takes a little effort. Also, if a person hasn’t tried either activity they don’t know what they’re missing AND if a person is out of shape, either physically or intellectually, they will struggle a little at first, but that struggle is worthwhile.
No pain no gain
We all know why sitting around too much makes us fat and lazy. Well, never thinking, never reflecting, never sharing our deeper thoughts with others, makes us intellectually sluggish and inarticulate.
To slow down and sit still now and then is good for us, especially if while we’re sitting we’re doing more than watching television. If we choose to write a letter we’re using physical skills, social skills, intellectual skills and spiritual skills. I’ve told you before that letter writing is a complete treat, well, it’s also a complete workout. It’s healthy!
Writing a letter may be a slow activity, but nothing is good nor bad. Tis thinking makes things so. Where some people think a letter’s slowness is a fault, I know it’s a blessing. I don’t mind the time it takes for my letters to reach their destinations and my letter friends don’t insist I rush to answer their missives. Speed is not the most important thing in all personal communication. Thoughtful expression trumps speed. Caring and sharing trumps speed. The personal touch trumps speed. Art play trumps speed. Having a chest full of lasting, intimate messages tied up with ribbon trumps speed.
Hand writing a letter is a slow, pleasurable physical activity. It is certainly not instant messaging. It is so much more than that. Handwriting is art. When we slow down and take our time to write a personal letter the process for the writer is like an intellectual massage, or doing slow physical yoga, or enjoying a long friendly chat with a friend over coffee. or spending time in prayer for our penfriend. If we limit our venting in a letter (though a little is sometimes good for the soul) and focus instead on positive, beautiful thoughts, we come away from our letter writing time refreshed and inspired. I know I do.
So, if you’ve not been writing letters, thinking they were too slow and old fashioned an activity for modern you, well, just think of these words from Robert Frost. He says,
“There’s absolutely no reason for being rushed along with the crowd. Everyone should be free to go very slowly.”
Modern man thinks he loses something – time – when he does not do things quickly; yet he does not know what to do with the time he gains – except kill it