Do you journal? I have enjoyed journal writing off and on for years. I would probably be more faithful to my journals if it weren’t for the fact that I’m a letter writer. You see, I find journal writing and letter writing to be much the same thing. Journals chronicle feelings, ideas, and events in our lives, both major and minor events, but letters capture these same things too.
Of course, in order to revisit your letters it’s necessary to copy them in some way, but this can be easily accomplished. Sara Avant Storer, in her book “The Way of the Happy Woman” writes,
“Even when you’re not going through extreme life changes journaling offers a useful way to examine the intersection between your inner and outer worlds. This process can’t just happen mentally. A transformation occurs when you meet the page with your pen and your words flow. A wise witness emerges from within you – the one who can extract the insights and magic from whatever you’re presently living through and helps you to see how to apply them. Here resides an important ingredient in reclaiming your creativity.”
Sara could’ve been talking about letters, for the same insights and magic occurs whenever a letter writer puts pen to paper and allows her words to flow out to a friend.
It’s not so much where our thoughts are written but rather that we take the time to write. It’s the writing that creates the magic. We can put our words in a box on the shelf for our eyes only, or we can put our words in a letter that has wings, wings that fly our words across the country into the hands of others. I keep thinking of the motto ‘Not for us alone.” That motto speaks to me – it expresses my feelings for home and it expresses my feelings about my written thoughts. ‘Not for us alone’ is all about sharing.
I suppose I’m just not a very private person. If you are very private you probably do not like to share as much as I do. But I can’t help but think by sharing maybe someone else can identify with my feelings and benefit from them. Maybe sharing with others will help us both clarify issues. I already know sharing doubles the joy and divides any sorrow for sharing offers people different perspectives and these perspectives can be helpful.
One of life’s most beautiful truths is that we are all connected and we need each other whether we realize it or not. When we journal, we reflect on our inner and outer worlds. This reflection is good, but it stops there. Journals can’t possible supply us with feedback. Letters can.
Reflecting with others doubles the pleasure. We get our thoughts and feelings out as we do when we’re journaling, but at the same time, with letter writing we receive reactions from our pen friends and these reactions can be valuable.
Penfriends will commiserate, encourage, praise and validate our thinking – or question it. My journal never does any of those things for me. Letter friends also entertain us with their own musings. So you see, letter writing offers the pleasure of journaling with the added bonus of friendship.
I know what you’re thinking. You wonder if you could pour your heart out to a letter friend as freely as to a private journal. I say “Yes!” The trick is to make many letter friends – with some you share these things, with others you share those things, and if you’re really lucky, you may develop such special letter friends, true kindred spirits, with whom you can share everything!
If you’re a people person you already realize and appreciate how each and every one of us is unique and how conversing with a great variety of people helps us see the world from many different perspectives. Each of our pen friends brings out diffeent parts of our personality adding color, richness and dimension to our thoughts.
Louann Brizendine, author of “The Female Brain” says,
“After only eight weeks in utero the neurons in female brains morph to generate connection, collaboration, inclusiveness, nurturance, generosity, expressiveness and playfulness by developing the areas that govern communication and emotion while neurons in male brains concentrate more on sex and aggression.”
But I do think the pressures and distractions of modern life are not helping females focus their efforts on expressive nurturing activities and relationships. Though it is good for females to be tough as well as tender, it seems many women today are forced to become tough period!
Tenderness seems to have gone out of style along with gentle femininity. If women don’t cultivate and exercise their inborn capacity for expressiveness, emotion, and communication, that capacity may shrivel up, and men in turn will not have the benefit of associating with the kind of women whose soft feminine qualities temper their tough, aggressive male natures.
Making deep connections, sharing ourselves, and offering support to each other can only make the world a better place. Don’t lots of songs say thing like “What the world needs now is love sweet love”, or “Love makes the world go round”, or “All we need is love”? Well then, more love, please!
Keep a journal if you like, but consider letter writing as an additional method of reflection, reflection with built-in sharing. The added bonus of this shared reflection is that we make the world a friendlier place – and that reminds me of a song by Carmino Ravosa. I’m happy to share the song’s lyrics with you.
Make This World a Better Place
I’m gonna make this world a better place
I’m gonna make this world a better place
I’m gonna make this world a better place by my being here
I’m gonna care about others not just about me
Gonna make a difference you will see
Reflect, but share your reflections. Write a letter to someone. Make the world a better place just by being you, by caring about others (not just about you and your own thoughts.)