“A letter always seemed to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend.”
― Emily Dickinson
A couple weeks ago I posed a challenge to write and mail five handwritten notes in one week to reconnect with friends, family, or colleagues. I decided to write my five notes first thing in the morning last week so I wouldn’t get distracted by my to-do list for the day. Sitting at the large desk in our office, I wrote mostly to express my appreciation of general kindness and guidance from my in-laws, mom, aunt, and mentor from graduate school. The last note was to my best friend formally congratulating her on getting accepted to dental school.
The results? I heard back quickly from almost everyone. Several people were moved to tears. All expressed thanks and blessings for the note. My in-laws even mentioned it multiple times to me through text message and at dinner. Was it a little begrudging to take out my box of notes and address book at first? I admit that it was. But once I started writing it felt less like a task to be completed, and the entire process took about an hour (including updating my address book!). Just one hour to touch the lives of people whom I hold dear to me.
Writing notes isn’t just about quickly scribbling something down, slapping a stamp on the front, and sealing up the envelope. It is a natural process in reflection. I’ll write a line or two, then put down the pen, sit back, and think about the last time I saw that person, what we did, what we laughed about, or perhaps the wonderful thing he or she did for me. It is a process of discovery in how we connect with others, and how that connection evolves over time. Essentially, it’s like having a great conversation with a friend – one that you both enjoy, even when you’re not in the same place at the same time. So if you think writing a few notes isn’t going to make a big difference, try telling that to the people who are overjoyed to receive them.
As for the people who you think about writing to, but know they won’t respond? Send it anyway. You never know the silent impact it may have on that person. And after all, the process will benefit you as much as it does those who receive the notes. If you’re still skeptical, try it yourself, and leave the door of opportunity open. You never know what might happen.