Are letters a thing of the past? I think not. Remember when you would pass notes in class? Can you recall that adrenaline rush of receiving a letter, opening it and slowly devouring its contents word by word. Now we have texts, and we know that those cause our brains to release a hormone called Dopamine. Dopamine was "discovered" in 1958 by Arvid Carlsson and Nils-Ake Hillarp at the National Heart Institute of Sweden. Dopamine is created in various parts of the brain and is critical in all sorts of brain functions, including thinking, moving, sleeping, mood, attention, motivation, seeking and reward. We also have email as a mode of communication, but that's just not the same as opening the mailbox, or being handed a gift, and seeing a beautiful letter inside.
Letters have been a part of our history since the first ever handwritten letter, which was thought to have been sent by the Persian Queen Atossa in around 500 BC, according to the ancient historian Hellanicus. Their popularity, as a way of sending messages, grew as more people became literate. The stamped letter we know today came into being in the reign of Queen Victoria in 1840. Letters have stood the test of time, because I just wrote one last week, keeping this tradition alive. Some people enjoy collecting unique and beautiful stationary to write letters on. A nice location to stock up on supplies is Paper Source in Rosemary Square, West Palm Beach, right across from The Garden Shoppe.
Even if you don't like your handwriting, you can still write letters on the computer or even better... on a typewriter! I love old school typewriters, they have so much beauty and unique character to them. The way that the typed words are often imperfect and usually misaligned just adds a lovely touch!
There are even websites where you can find pen pals, if you don't have a friend or family member to write to, no worries... there are still people out there who would love to hear from you! Have you ever had a pen pal? There are many reasons to try it out, mainly because it allows you to learn more about someone. It's a beautiful way of deepening connections with the outside world.
When we write letters, we have time to consider what we want to say, what questions we want to ask, and what tone we want to convey. Sometimes conversations can get foggy, because people often interrupt and talk over one another. So, by writing letters, you get the opportunity to express your entire thought, and even multiple thoughts, before the recipient responds. Then they have time to read and reread the letter, if they need to, and consider what they want to say in response.
I remember a pen pal I had, who I met during an internship at The Discovery Channel. We were editing a video together, and we spent so much time together that we became good friends. She and I brought in our sketch books, once we found out that we were both artists, and we each drew a picture in the other's sketch book, so we would never forget our fun time together.
Then when the internship ended, we realized that we would both be vacationing at the same place, so we agreed to meet up later in the summer. That was an awesome weekend! We did meet up in Ocean City, MD and had a great time. As I was departing, she came running from the house and handed me a letter. She said "I thought we should be pen pals, so we can keep in touch no matter what!" I took the letter, with tears in my eyes, and drove away.
We kept writing, sending gifts and care packages for many years. It was a wonderful, heart warming experience that I would love for everyone to have! A new friend and I have recently begun writing letters to one another, and this reawakens a creative aspect of me that has been dormant for quite some time! So, I'm now pulling out my stationary, and utilizing my excellent penmanship! This will also give me the opportunity to practice calligraphy, which I have always wanted to do. I especially want to use a feather tipped, quill pen! So fancy!
Imagine putting on a record, with ambient lighting filling the room, sitting down at your writing desk, sipping some tea and penning a beautiful letter to a loved one. There is something very tranquil and inspiring about this vision. I hope you decide to write!
Speaking of writing + poetry, I have a new book
Soul Whispers is a compilation of my poetry + photography that I have created over the course of my lifetime. This is a very special project for me, and a long time in the making, I am very excited.
Check out my other books here!