When I was a student living in Spain, well before the days of email and mobile phones, writing letters home was my way not only of keeping in touch with those I loved but also of reflecting on my experience. For a time letter-writing was just like keeping a journal.
These days we are more likely to use electronic forms of communication – and what we are gaining in speed and immediacy we are perhaps losing in connection.
When I write a letter I hold the person to whom I’m writing entirely in my mind’s eye, and craft my words in a way that I feel will be most meaningful to them. It’s the ultimate exercise in writing for an audience, but it’s also an opportunity to see what words show up to describe how we really feel.
In personal letters we can send a heartfelt message, interwoven with our kindest intentions for the recipient, and add another connecting thread into the global skein of human consciousness. I picture handwritten letters criss-crossing the surface of the earth, the products of our myriad physical acts of moving our hand across the page, translating the thoughts in our minds into inky and intelligible shapes on paper. There really is no wonder at all why it always feels so special to receive a hand-written letter, given the complex physiology and psychology involved in the process, and the special link that is forged as a result.