How Handwriting Saved Me

You know as well as I do that today, everything is digital, and thank goodness! Otherwise, blogs would be REALLY terrible. We’d have to have some sort of mailed newsletter, and that would be awful. And can you even imagine having to use actual maps to find directions? **shudder**

But there is something simple and wonderful in the act of sitting down with a pen and putting thoughts onto paper. Obviously, it takes longer for most people. I can type over 100 words a minute, and spell-checker is my best friend in the whole world (no offense Oreos. You’re a very close second). So there is the physical aspect of taking more time and energy to actually write a letter. Then there is also the question of postage. You have to pay for the postage AND it takes several days to get there. How barbaric. But there is a part of yourself that is infused with the paper as you write by hand. Something deeply you that comes out in your handwriting.

Most of you know that I spent two years in Africa as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (check out the post here). I spent my time in two different countries: Benin and Togo. At that time, the US wasn’t accepting postage coming from those countries because they didn’t meet the security standards of the US postal services. So, all my communications were by email, and if I wanted to send something home to my family, I had to find someone traveling back to the US, give them the letter, and have them mail it for me.

Luckily, my family could send letters and packages to me. Most of them were filled to the brim with peanut-butter, Oreos, and various instant-sauce powders (if you’ve read this post, you know that my cooking skills are far from superb). I missed so many small and simple things from America, and my family was awesome enough to send them, but of course because I was in such a remote part of the world, they would take six to eight weeks to arrive, if they arrived at all. (One package found its way back to my families doorstep after three months. Several others just disappeared entirely)

But of all the great goodies and treats that I received in those care-packages, the ones I truly cherished were the hand-written letters from my parents, sisters, and extended family. I still have them four years later! There was something very powerful about the knowledge that although my family was thousands of miles away and I wouldn’t see them for 2 years, I was holding a piece of paper that they had held, and I was reading words that they had sat down to write by hand. It made me feel connected to them in a way that an email or typed letter never could. I would read and re-read those letters over and over, drawing strength from the ink. I knew the handwriting. My family was in those letters. On the days I felt that my mission was just too hard or that I couldn’t keep going, the familiar curved Ws and swooping Rs kept me going.

Having been on the receiving end of so many personal, hand-written letters, I recognize how powerful they can be, and make it a point to write them whenever I get the chance. It only takes a couple minutes to write one, and about $0.39 to send it, but you never know the value it may have to the one receiving it. In fact, I have some Christmas thank-you cards that I’ve been putting off for a bit too long…


UPDATE

I just came across this piece about the benefits of writing things by hand. Very interesting article! Read it here.


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Pens and Pencils.”

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11 thoughts on “How Handwriting Saved Me

  1. TJ, thanks for these thoughts. I totally agree with what you have written–that is typed! I love getting thank you notes from my family and friends. Many of them are saved forever because they mean so much. I just came upon the handwritten story of my great great grandfather written in 1867 in his own hand. It was so very meaningful because, as you said, it made him seem to be right there with me. I have read other accounts of his life, but this one, in his own handwriting was really powerful!

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  2. A beautiful post and a beautiful reminder of the power of the hand written word. It is so much easier these days to open up this electronic box and send correspondence instantly, but your thoughts on the subject made me want to dust off a notebook, find a pencil, and write someone a letter. Thank you for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There are some things in life that can’t be given a monetary value, I think a handwritten letter is one of them. I came across an old love letter in a jewellery box once. It was the most amazing glance into the couples life. I privileged to read it, but even though they were both deceased I felt like I had invaded their privacy somehow.

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  4. Yes, I know the feeling. My handwriting is totally illegible thanks to the Internet. Even if it were legible, I would still find it hard to understand. Good post to remind us to keep the handwriting up – after all, when the power goes out, how are we going to send messages to each other? :-) Regards, eLFY

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