Friday, 27 May 2016

Connection Through Snail Mail

Connection Through Snail MailI'm a strong believer in the importance of connection; of working on and nurturing the relationships we have. Nothing beats a face-to-face conversation; sitting down over a cuppa, catching up, and physically being there to offer a hug or a supportive squeeze of the hand. Actually being there, in person, with the people you love and who love you.

But let's face it, that's not always possible. We're busy people with busy lives, and some people might not live a bus ride away. There may be those friends from school we haven't seen since going to uni. Those friends from uni we haven't seen since moving after graduating. Friends from previous jobs we don't get to see so much of now we're working elsewhere. Seeing these people face-to-face can require not only time, but also money, and as someone who has been having some financial difficulties lately, I know it's just not always possible.

And so we rely on what we do have. We live in a fast paced, digital world where a message - whether through email, social media, or various messaging apps - can be sent within seconds. It doesn't require much thought, time or effort to send a message these days, and in my opinion, it leaves a lot to be desired. You're talking, but there's no real connection there. Maybe if you're using FaceTime of Skype. But what if you're not able to?

Laura wrote a few weeks back on her experience of not having access to the internet. What do you do then? Well, you could always make a phone call! It's not perfect, but at least you can make a connection when you're able to hear each other and discern tone and emotion. But it still relies on technology. What if you're mobile breaks, or you run out of minutes, or it gets stolen, or...? And you're one of those people who no longer has a landline, or work is being done on the telephone lines, so you can't use it anyway? No internet and no phone. How do you communicate then?

There is a way. It's relatively inexpensive, but kind of old school, so most people don't think of it anymore. Snail mail.

I'm passionate about snail mail. There's a lot to be said for handwriting someone a letter. Real connection can be made through intentionally taking the time out of your day - making time for this person - and showing them you're thinking of them by sending them a note the old fashioned way. It requires effort, it requires time, and I'm telling you, there's something magical in receiving a letter from someone knowing they set aside some time for you, that they put in the effort to write a letter, go and buy a stamp, and popping it in the postbox for you. Snail mail isn't just a way of nurting your relationships and fanning the flames of connection with the person you care about, snail mail is also a gift.

And you can also give this gift of time and effort in physical form to someone you hardly know. I also think there's something special about becoming penpals and getting to know someone through letters; building a friendship through the written word. There's an excitement to waiting for a reply, and devouring the words of this new friend with relish. And writing back - telling them more about you, answering their questions, catching them up on your life - is it's own kind of exquisite, knowing the person your letter is going to is interested, genuinely cares about what you have to say, and wants to read your words. There really is something uniquely magical about seeing and being seeing, creating that connection, through letters. It's wonderful, and it's also really beautiful.

So how about it? One day of the week, you set aside half an hour, an hour, two hours - depending on what you want to say - and handwriting a letter to someone you love. Maybe a relative - a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, a cousin? - or an old friend - someone from school, or uni, or a previous job? Need some ideas on what to write? Alexandra Franzen has a free workbook One Letter Today (scroll down just a little), with ideas on who to write to, and templates on what to say. Or perhaps you'd like to receive a letter? You might be in luck, as I'm open to letter requests from whoever wants one.

Breath life to connection one sheet of paper at a time.

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