My Nana has finally come to live with us after twelve long years alone in the house that she once shared with my late Grandad Harry. Not just changing house but changing country she has returned from the UK to the place of her birth, and our home, Ireland. It’s remarkable what beauty the older generation can instill in your heart if you are willing to slow down for a moment, listen and learn. Reared in a time when instant gratifications were outnumbered by the rewards of great effort and simple appreciations, they bring you back to Earth.
Back from facebook and twitter, from bbm and whatsapp, from texts and emails, back to life before communication became so easy and in turn so meaningless. After all what’s a drunken Saturday night text if deleted by Sunday morning? Or an angry tweet punched out on an impulse? Today’s paper used to be yesterdays news, but now you’re lucky if your facebook status survives the hour! With so many people saying so many things from so many platforms, Does anyone REALLY listen anymore?
Tonight I spent over an hour sitting with my Nan, peeling our way through her little worn address book and sending out letters to her friends containing her new details. It was beautiful, taking the time to write, personalizing each letter for each special friend (as oppose to copy and paste) and I wondered if I knew any of my friends actual addresses, what ever happened to writing letters?
Elizabeth Bishop was enthralled by letter writing, she saw it as an high art form and in fact began many of her poems in two or three sentences of a letter to Moore or Lowell. Her correspondence with Lowell was such a precious record of life and time that the vast collection of letters was published not so long ago in a volume worth its historic and literary weight in gold. Of course as a fellow lover of words I yearn for a time when people would stop being so lazy with their language. the English language contains such stunning phrases and amazing words that are never reached because this generation is too busy shortening the shortest words we know all too well (dnt u tnk so?). There was a long period when letters were considered vogue and as every other fashion / trend seems to die out and return in cyclic sync, I say, its time to bring back the letter!
There’s something almost therapeutic, spiritual about the whole process, from choosing your writing paper and favourite pen, to slowing down each stroke in attempt to display your best handwriting. The flippant, impulsive, thoughtless nature of todays communication is at once obliterated by the gentle forming of sentences and inevitable dispersed pauses as one gathers their thoughts and ponders how to convey them in the best way possible. The ease with which we currently skim and delete complete conversations forgetting soon after that they ever occurred is replaced by a tangible, precious object of care, effort and affection. One which is much harder to disregard and in my opinion much more likely to truly connect with its reader, as they lay eyes on the senders writing, perhaps even inhale the senders parfum, lightly sprayed upon the pages to invoke a memory or a feeling.
I remember receiving my first piece of post as a child, tearing open the envelope with an excitement only matched at Christmas. I still feel that rush today when an envelope plops on to the mat with my name scrawled across it, (unfortunately the rush is usually quenched rather quickly by the realization that its a bill!) If you have something to say, why not give it, effort filled and wholly personal to whom you wish, let them hold your words in their hands and know that in this time when words are sent, resent, copied and deleted without a second thought, yours, were meant.