Early this year, I sent each sister and her children a book of poetry that I had put together. Yes, I was getting old, but more importantly, I hardly knew these folks any longer and they didn’t know me. I wanted to change that.
I grew up knowing my aunts and uncles. We saw each other more than a few times each year. It had been years since I had seen my sisters or even my son. And, I must admit, it was far cheaper to print some of my poetry, get it bound and mail it out than to visit each of these folks. I got notes or e-mails from most folks, but just a few days ago I received a letter in the mail from a niece in Alaska.
What a wonderful gift! It was handwritten! Every once in a while, some reader sends me a note on an article I’ve written but it’s been years since I’ve gotten an actual letter from anyone! I’m as much to blame as anyone else. It’s so easy to drop someone an e-mail — no envelope, no stamp, not much thought, easy, quick, free. I felt really good.
True, this niece lives in a cabin in Alaska without running water; but I’m sure she has all sorts of electronic communication stuff available. I felt sort of blessed. It was really nice. I was reminded that I had become a Neanderthal. I had no idea how to text anyone anything. I still didn’t understand why anyone not in business needed a cell phone! And, why did anyone need a phone with a camera? Or a phone with GPS or for that matter, GPS in their car (haven’t these folks ever used a map?). And why would I want to be on “Facebook”? Or want to tweet someone?
Needless to say, I was elated that someone younger than I was actually could write a letter … or write anything without using a keyboard! I suppose that there no longer are blue books for college exams either? A letter is so messy and wonderful. You actually have to look at it closely and get used to a person’s handwriting … it’s personal! I love it! Of course, I began life as an English teacher.
I loved listening to my niece and getting to know her a little better. She is studying life in small subsistence communities and her husband is studying forest dynamics in changing climates. Things to help us better understand the world in which we live and to make more informed decisions in the future.
I suppose that colleges today are under pressure to offer courses on letter writing. It is, after all, a dying art form.
Yet, I suspect that no one really cares. Everyone seems to have some long distance phone service that doesn’t even require dialing anymore. Pushing buttons is far more efficient and uses far less energy.
Save yourself for more vigorous activities like channel surfing. And why go outside to take a walk? Buy yourself a treadmill and enjoy walking in the comfort of your own home. It’s far less dangerous and you can’t really trust the air out there! Do you remember the good old days when you actually could drink the water in a mountain stream?
I know that I rapidly am becoming as outdated as my computer. I’m actually in a Men’s Spirituality Group at my church. So far, we haven’t gotten to the point where we watch visual presentations and take written tests to decide if we are actually spiritual or just plain senile!
If nothing else, we do discuss walks in the woods and in the wild. Sharing perceptions and trading tales has long been a rite of passage for men. At one time this sharing was done at an early stage in life when you actually could learn something useful from the older guys. Now there is such a rush to learn stuff and begin to make money that we save this until later in life when we’re too old to learn much from anyone.
So, it’s a great gift when a niece sends you a two-page handwritten letter. You’re able to get some new information and insight. At least someone is paying attention to something you’ve done recently.
Reach Richard Olmer at email@example.com.
Mon, Jan 30, 2012
A pleasant surprise and a lost art
Wed, Nov 2, 2011
On this summer, global warming and facial hair
Fri, Sep 9, 2011
A summer almost gone?
Mon, Aug 1, 2011
The origins of trail names
Wed, Jul 6, 2011
Where exactly does spirit reside?
Wed, Jun 1, 2011
Where to begin?
Wed, Apr 6, 2011
Considering cougar cuisine
Wed, Mar 2, 2011
The folly of resolutions
Tue, Jan 18, 2011
A place of uncommon beauty
Tue, Jan 4, 2011
Christmas: What does it all mean?
Tue, Dec 21, 2010
A spiritual advisor
Wed, Nov 10, 2010
Understanding personal gifts of everyday people
Tue, Oct 26, 2010
So, after you've done it all, what's left?
Wed, Oct 6, 2010
The context of place
Wed, Sep 22, 2010
Revisiting old friends
Wed, Sep 1, 2010
Paradise is all around on peninsula
Wed, Aug 18, 2010
The wonder in waterfalls
Wed, Aug 4, 2010
A walk in the park does the soul good
Wed, Jul 21, 2010
Trying to explain
Wed, Jul 7, 2010