At the beginning of this year, I made it my goal to write 215 handwritten correspondences. I have always loved receiving mail; my parents always tell the story of the first day I got something in the mail addressed to me, and I was amazed and ran around the house waving the letter saying, "They know me!!! They know me!!!" - even though it was a Reader's Digest subscription letter. In the same way, though, that's what a letter does - it reminds you that someone out there in this big world knows you and is thinking of you. I think that's why I wanted to intentionally write more letters this year - to remind people (because we so often forget!) that they are loved.
So when I heard about International Correspondence Writing Month, I thought - perfect, this will help me towards the goal! InCoWriMo is essentially a commitment/challenge to write a letter to someone every day for the month of February (because, well, it's the shortest month!). They encourage you to write to your friends, but also to strangers, so I've taken this opportunity to write to some people I've always wanted to write to and thank, which includes my favourite children's book writer, Kit Pearson, and two of my favourite musicians, Audrey Assad and Sufjan Stevens.
I think it's been surprising to me how much I've enjoyed the actual act of writing these letters. There's something about knowing that as I write, the other person who knows where will be reading it, and I almost put a part of myself there with them. As I write, I sometimes wonder what that experience will be like for the receiving end - will they read it on the bus? In the evening, after dinner? Right away as soon as they open their mailbox? And if I'm writing to a musician or writer who probably gets lots of mail, will they ever see it? Will this land in their huge pile of fan mail? Either way, I think I still enjoy the process. I find that letter writing forces me to be very present in writing to that person, and to really write something meaningful. In our digital age where we communicate with emojis and acronyms and short text messages, I think handwritten letters become even more precious not just because they're rare in number, but because they're rare in content. It's easier to write a status update and update all your friends at once, but it's different when you tell your friends one by one about something that happened that day or that movie you saw or that high school friend you bumped into. I think when we tell stories to a particular person rather than to the Facebook world, we tell it differently, and the story becomes more personalized. In letter writing too, we send off a message and we don't get an immediate response - and I think I like that about it. It allows for one to soak in it, and in my experience, it makes me feel like that other person is almost here with me - I sense it in their handwriting, their vernacular, even the card or paper they've chosen.
All that to say that yes, as my husband hints at, I might just be born in the wrong century...