The Art Of Letter Writing

Not so long ago, people used to write letters. They would take the time to take pen in hand and put their thoughts on paper. But now the world has shifted from long epistles to ten second sound bites. We limit ourselves to brief text messages or short tweets and like to think we are communicating. Even emails are rarely longer than a few sentences. It is as if we can’t be bothered to go into detail or we don’t want to bother others with details.

But occasionally we are surprised with a letter or in my case, an email. One that shows clarity and depth of thought. One that is an invitation to exchange ideas and that deserves a thoughtful reply.  One that is worthy of being shared and discussed. What follows is the email I received and in italics, my response.

Subject: Initial meet…..

So in the tradition of following through, here is the email, step two to give it a proper name. The only need for a proper name is to have an agreed upon reference with which to recall it in the future.   It could almost be called the start if not for the misplaced but intriguing dialogue we had. The one  that lead to “step two” being written and finding its way in to your in box. That being said, there is a point.

One thing always leads to another, either in the same direction, slightly askew, or flat out opposite, “this” will always lead to “that”. Depending on what “this” is, “that” will turn out to be positive or negative. Keeping that in mind will (at least in theory) help people to really live the life they want instead of the one they talk about wanting.

How many times have you heard or said, ” If only…” ? While the rest of the sentence can end in a thousand different ways, there are really only two things that person is saying.  One is ” I have not yet learned to accept that life isn’t fair.” The other is ” It is someone else’s fault that I am not living the life that I want to.”  The first is like holding on to a hundred pound weight and trying to swim. The second is just refusing to let go so that you can learn to.

It is much easier for us to blame, others, circumstances, and even past choices we have made, than it is to take the steps necessary to reach the mark(s) of which we aspire. That inconvenient defect in human nature hides a very simple truth. Reaching any goal is simply doing something today, that you can build on tomorrow and happiness is knowing you are taking the steps to reach your goal.

There are many variables that come in to play when analyzing why some are miserable and others are not. For instance, immaturity, instant gratification, lack of self control, self worth, or self discipline.Allowing those around us to dictate our path. The projection of their failures on to us because misery loves company and the more of my peers that make it, the harder it becomes to justify why I can’t.  It  can go on and on.

This was just a quick jot down of some thoughts I have on one  subject that never ceases to stimulate the intuition and exercise the powers of perception. Human nature, the good, the bad, and the unknown,  will always be a source of an endless combination of words. Stories, poems, fiction, non-fiction, self help, biography, documentary, philosophy, religion, and so on, all with in easy reach of our minds eye, ready to be translated into words and put down on paper. It is just a matter of taking the steps to do it.
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Since I am of the opinion that it is almost impossible to be witty and charming in an initial email, especially when I hardly know a person, I decided to think of  our conversation and just start writing. This is what flowed out. Not to worry, witty and charming are plentiful and available, they just don’t flow as easily as thought and opinion. At least not until there is an exchange of personalities to draw from.  I mean,  I have never once told myself how witty and charming I am,  therefore I am sure that another personality has to be in the equation…..

Subject: re: Initial meet….

This must be step three, the response to an initial email, an exchange of opinions between two individuals who are just beginning to get to know one another. I wanted to take my time reading your email, allowing your thoughts to fill my mind, to linger there, to feel at home.  

If “this” always leads to “that” no matter what direction “that” may take, how then do we account for the seemingly randomness of the universe? If “this” always leads to “that,” there is no allowance for coincidence, chance encounters, or miracles.   Even legal contracts acknowledge the possibility of chance occurrences with standard force majeure clauses. 

Yet, we want to believe that “this” always leads to “that” because we want to think we are in control of our destiny. That control is an illusion. We may have a game plan, may play by the rules, and may even see the winning goal in sight. If we are very lucky, our game plays out the way we hoped it would. Often luck is not on our side. We get blindsided by things beyond our control. We change our game plans, we alter our goals, we let our dreams die. We know deep down that much is beyond our control.

No, life is not fair. We all know this. We learned this long ago. We may sometimes rail against it, but deep down we know that life is neither fair nor unfair. It simply is. I like your analogies of holding onto a weight and trying to swim or being unable to let go of the weight to learn to swim.  May I suggest another possible answer to the “if only” sentence, one that would replace the life is unfair idea? Fear. Fear that we might not be smart enough, or strong enough, or good enough. Fear that we won’t be accepted. Fear of failure. Fear that we might disappoint those we love. Fear that we are running out of time.

I can understand why you wouldn’t consider it. You are fearless. It is one of the things that draws me to you.  I look forward to getting to know your witty and charming side…….

Yes, the writer of the email I received should have his own blog. I have said as much to him and perhaps one day soon he will find the time for that. In the meantime, I will cherish our conversations that rarely venture into shallow water and will relish any thoughtful letters he chooses to send my way.


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14 thoughts on “The Art Of Letter Writing

  1. I love this post, and I know just the person who should read it. I’ll send them right over. You are completely witty and charming, by the way. And classy, don’t forget classy.

  2. That is a deep conversation. One that requires analysis. This is a conversation that I might just sit and listen to for a while before attempting to harmonize with it.

  3. Being the registrar at the Patent Office when that other guy invented dirt, I have written quite a few pen-and-ink letters, although most of them were typed. Even here, among the blogs I can’t/don’t just do a 10 second sound-bite. As the Hermudgeon has observed, my responses can be verbose.

    Two lovely letters! May the communication continue.

  4. I put together a few last week and, I’m not going to lie to you, it felt good to write a bunch of letters.

    ….really good.

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