The New Year had me thinking a lot about goals, values, ambitions, motivations, life, and how excited I was to wear my new fuzzy socks. With all the talk of “look how far you’ve come in a year” and “can you believe that was only 1 year ago” I found myself even more reflective and nearly bubbling over with blog ideas – two of which involved writing about goals and values.
At my old job, we had a list of working norms – kind of like guiding values – and each day at our morning huddle, we would say what working norm we were focusing on that day. I loved that idea. I mean, obviously, in theory, you were living into every positive attribute every day you walked into the office, but how nice it was to really put your heart and soul behind one guiding value each week.
For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate a new series of “Res” posts to my own kind of working norms – my own mini-resolutions. You don’t have to buy into any of these. You don’t have to make your own. But maybe at some point, it’ll make you think about what it would look like to radically change your life one week at a time.
Res 9: Write Letters
I always ask for stamps for Christmas. It’s a weird request, I know, but I love writing letters. I love writing letters in beautiful cards and I love scribbling notes on torn notebook paper. I love sending regular mail to pen pals and I love dropping an unexpected “thinking of you” card to someone who would never expect it. I love the ritual of addressing the outside and adding the stamp and sealing the envelope. I love the walk to the post box and I love the way the handle scrapes shut, trapping your heart-felt note in its steel cage.
In mailing a letter, you are putting your soul to paper and dropping it into a box with hundreds of others. And then you wait. You wait and you wait and you can only hope that it makes it across the country, across the ocean, or across the world. What trust comes, then, in the art of writing a letter?
And what patience? To spare the ink and whisper to parchment, ideas you haven’t fully formulated yet and to send it to someone else holds an underappreciated amount of romance. This isn’t a text message with a “read receipt.” There is no way to see if they opened the email. And at least with a voicemail, you know that little notification icon is eventually going to drive them to listen to it.
But a letter? A letter is pure and patience. A letter is love.
I’ve been very fortunate, over the years, to accumulate a number of pen pals – some of whom I only speak to in letters and some of which I speak to every day and just add the occasional letter into the mix to keep them on their toes.
The idea of a pen pal is perhaps even more pure than the letter itself. To mail a letter, you are putting incredible faith in the United States Postal Service. To correspond with another, you are trusting that they will write back. That they will read your letter and a part of them will think, “hey…me too…thank you.”
Resolution #9: Write Letters
I always ask for stamps for Christmas… and if I do it right, I always have to ask for more stamps for my birthday in May. This week, write 2 letters: the first to someone you talk to all the time. They won’t be surprised to hear from you, but they will be surprised at the manner in which you have chosen to communicate. Second, write to someone who has had a profound impact on you that you, perhaps, haven’t spoken to in quite some time. Thank them for the influence they have had on your life. Tell them you are thinking about them. Tell them you hope they have an amazing day.
I think my favorite thing about writing letters is the way they can make a person feel. The single most important thing you can do on this earth is make someone feel as though they are not alone. One way to do that is by sharing stories… by giving people a chance to say “me too.”
So take that chance. Write a letter, not with the hopes of filling your own mailbox with responses, but with the knowledge that in that one small act, you have the ability to make someone’s day.