Handwritten Thoughts

Jacquelyn - Vacaville, California
Entered on November 13, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: legacy
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I believe in the lost art of a handwritten letter. Since the beginning of time, people communicated through words written on a surface for others to see. Today is all about technology, e-mail, text messaging, video messaging; you don’t need to know how to properly spell in order to say ‘How are you doing?” A handwritten letter sends care, love, and emotion through the loops of an ‘L’ or the curves of an ‘O’ over thousands of miles to a loved someone.

When I moved away from home, my mom told me that I had to write a letter to my grandmother every month. What seemed to be a time-consuming burden at first turned into a solitary outlet, away from the chaos of school and friends, where I could organize my thoughts and carefully arrange a symphony of words and emotions so share with someone else. As the year progressed, my letters grew in length, as did my bond with my grandmother. I looked forward to receiving her letters, reading her words, and figuring out her emotions shared with me. I began to be able to picture her bending over a sheet of paper, pen in hand, looking out a window organizing her experiences and beliefs. Meaningful handwritten letters require time, feelings, and effort. With everything going on in the world today, and personal problems in everyone’s life, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and scatter-brained. Sometimes when I felt like a ping-pong game was going on in my head, I’d go to a private place, sit down with a paper and pen and just put together pieces of my problem’s puzzle and send it through words, hoping to get confirmation or insight in return. No matter if I sent her a distressed or joyful letter, my grandmother made sure to always send a piece of wisdom to couple her “I love you always!”

If kept, letters are forever, not just deleted when your inbox gets too full. Forever, those emotions exist in words, information preserved, and secrets shared. We know a lot about history through letters. Whether it was during a time of war, where strategies were exchanged, or a time of change, such as Marie Antoinette confessing secrets to a distant brother. We can learn a lot, not just facts, but about historical figures’ personalities, morals, and connections with other people. Some are even made famous by the saved letters they sent, providing insight to curious or confused future generations wanting to know more about a person or time in history. When I finished my first year of college, my grandmother’s husband passed away, giving me the opportunity to move in with her during this time of need. During the weeks, I helped her organize her house, going through old papers and things collected over the years. I found every single letter I sent my grandmother. As a re-read them I watched how my writing matured, as did my thoughts and problem-solving skills. I could recall the mood or position I was in when I wrote them. There I was, preserved in history.

Some may argue handwritten letters traveling through mail might not be the most efficient way to exchange information. I say composing, sending, and receiving letters teach virtues such as patience, organization, and allow a beautiful form of freedom to express yourself in words.