A longtime friend of mine was digging through some old boxes and found some postcards and letters I’d sent him long ago (along with postcards from lots of other people, of course). He posted one of the postcards on Facebook and it led to a conversation about the end of postcard-sending and letter writing.
Most of the people who posted on the thread allowed as how they missed those days and that emails, or digital photos uploaded instantly to everyone online–awesome as that is–lack something that a handwritten card or letter from Elsewhere carries with it. Maybe, in part, it’s the sense of the journey that those cards and letters have taken to get to you. And while I have written and received some thoughtfully and carefully composed emails in my day (and some sloppily-constructed letters), there’s something about the handwritten missive in the mailbox, and finding it years later buried under other mementos, that carries a frisson that emails just can’t conjure. Is there something in the tactile nature of the letter or card, the personal nature of someone’s pen pressed to paper? Is is the idea that in writing a letter, we are actually stopping for a time and focusing on just one thing? (I dislike how I find myself doing this less and less, and I’m trying to find my way back from over-multi-tasking.)
I think it’s some combination of all these things and more, something indefinable. But the conversation made me realize how few postcards I’ve sent (or received for that matter) in recent years and how much I miss letter writing, an activity I used to love. So I’ve added a New Year’s resolution (yes, I have them; yes, I do them every year; yes, I find them helpful; no, I’m not sharing them here): this year, I’m going to send postcards and write letters again.