Monday, February 8, 2010


Twice a week I write a letter to a complete stranger. I fold it carefully, stuff it in an envelope, and send it off to the other side of the world... and I may never hear from that person again.

They don't know anything about me and all I know about them is their name and address, which makes it very difficult to write a letter.

It's harder than I expected, not that I've ever been the world's best pen pal to start with. The art of the letter has fallen by the wayside in today's age of email and internet access. Snail mail is all but extinct for anything other than physical packages.

I think it's kind of sad, personally. Sure, I struggle with what to say in a letter, and it's really easy to fall into a form letter mode when you're writing to people you don't know, but I think there's a personal touch with physical mail that email just doesn't have.

It takes a few moments to sit down and bang out an email, and send it off, but a letter... someone thought ahead, brought out pen and paper, moderated their usual scribble to something that someone else will be able to read. I think that puts something of the person into their correspondence.

I don't write letters to my friends, even those who are far away. There are people I hold quite dear that I don't even know their mailing address. And I realize, now, that that's quite a shame.

The written word is a wonderful thing, in all it's forms. I think a handwritten letter is something special, though. A good friend's handwriting should be as familiar as their face, and as welcome to see.

So, readers, I'm giving you a mission. Go write a letter. To your mom, your grandmother, your best friend or your brother, or even to that one guy you had a crush on in college if you have his address. It doesn't matter. Just write a letter, let them know you're thinking of them and took the time to sit down with pen and paper and write it out.

They'll smile when they read it, and that's worth it.