Handwritten letters are so much more than a piece of paper and pen. One puts their heart and soul into it, penning down all the feelings, while writing to their loved ones. Writing the letter, posting it, the other person waiting in anticipation, receiving it, and reading what the writer wants to tell – this whole process is so classic and magical.
In a heart warming TED talk by Hannah Brencher, she explains how she was the only student to wait near the mailbox as her mother preferred writing letters to texting in mobile phones. When Hannah moved to New York City and was suffering from depression, she did what she knows the best. She started writing love letters to strangers and put them in all parts of the city. Then, she blogged about these, and made a promise to the people of Internet that if anyone wants a handwritten letter, she would write one, no questions asked.
“I care. I’m here. I think of you often. You’re more than just words on a screen to me.”
Overnight, her inbox flooded with requests, ranging from a single mother in Sacramento to a girl being bullied in rural Kansas. She almost started a revolution, and fuelled interest among many people over these letters. It shaped into a global organisation “More Love Letters” with people feeling content that there are other people, even if they are strangers, who care enough to write you letters, reassure you with their words, and also share their stories.
She explains how she became a storyteller through this project. She tells us, “I could tell you about a woman whose husband has just come home from Afghanistan, and she is having a hard time unearthing this thing called conversation, and so she tucks love letters throughout the house as a way to say, ‘Come back to me. Find me when you can.’ Or the man who decides that he is going to take his life, uses Facebook as a way to say goodbye to friends and family. Well, tonight he sleeps safely with a stack of letters just like this one tucked beneath his pillow, scripted by strangers who were there for him when.”She proudly says that these kinds of stories are the ones that the letter writing never needs to talk about efficiency because it became an art form now.
The mere fact that one would sit down, muting all the technology distractions to write their heart out for the other person, is so heartwarming. Write the letter just as you talk to that person. If you are writing to your friend or a loved one, write like how you talk to them – funny, intense, crazy, or intimate. Be yourself. While reading, they should hear your voice at the back of their head.
We must keep doing little things for one another, especially writing – acknowledging their presence and efforts; assuring them that they are not alone, and that you are looking out for them; sharing bits of your life – in turn making them feel valued and loved. That feeling you get when you clutch those letters close to your heart, or tuck them under your pillow and sleep peacefully, is just priceless!