Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Disappearing from Our Lives....

Today I read an interesting article on AOL about 25 items that are disappearing from our current lifestyle. Some I easily understood, some surprised me. Some of the items that are apparently on their way out are stand alone bowling alleys, incandescent light bulbs, land phone lines, answering machines (because of the disappearing land lines, of course), the Yellow Pages, classified ads, movie rental stores, dial-up Internet access, VCR's, ham radio, swimming holes (too many lawsuits), cameras using film, wild horses, personal checks, drive-in theaters, mumps and measles, honey bees (scary!), news magazines and TV news, analog TV, and, #1, the family farm. But one that is obvious yet sad to me is the disappearance of the written letter. The full article stated:

While precise statistics aren't available, common opinion strongly suggests the hand-written note has become the dodo of the communications species. If so, I'm saddened. The very act of writing by hand slows the mind, forces it into a more contemplative state in which precisely chosen words convey nuances of emotion that could never be captured in a quick "Wassup?"

Certainly, the barriers for a rebirth of handwritten notes are significant; postage, stationary cost, the lack of immediacy, and the time and care required in its preparation. For me, an additional hurdle is my hen-scratch penmanship.

Nonetheless, nothing expresses respect for another like a handwritten letter, and no love e-mail, text message or cell phone call will ever be carefully bundled into a memory box and savored for years to come. In a world that thrives on acceleration, the handwritten letter calls us to a time more deliberate, elegant, and gracious.

I know that many of the items on the above list are far more serious than the disappearance of the handwritten letter, but this one saddens me. The handwritten letter, even a handwritten note, is such a personal expression from one person to another. Although I e-mail many times a day, I try to take the time to drop a handwritten note into the mail every once in a while, just to let someone know that I'm thinking of them, praying for them, admire them, have been encouraged by them, or thank them. The time it takes to write such a note in my best penmanship, on a pretty card or piece of stationery, to put on a stamp (which I always choose carefully -- right now it's Frank Sinatra), take to the post office (no mail delivery or pick up in our town), and mail. The time taken is a gift to the person to whom I send it, and I consider the handwritten notes I receive in the same light: a gift of time and effort from someone who cares for me.

So if you really want to give a friend or family member a "lift" today, take out a blank notecard or piece of stationery and write them a short note. Doing so shows how much you really care.

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