Water bill … electric bill … phone bill … Plopping down on the couch to sort through yet another array of unpaid bills can be exhausting. Imagine going through the mail and seeing a cheerful note from a dear friend to break up the monotony of reminders that the real world wants all your money. This stylized letter is something written especially for you, from someone you have actually met and someone you actually look forward to hearing from. There is no quicker way to put a smile on someone’s face than by sending them a quick reminder of how much you appreciate their friendship. Even receiving a thank you note is a small gesture that can make a big difference in someone’s day.
Before my time, letters were the main way to communicate. From what I hear, the mail truck coming down the road was a pretty big event. Now, we absentmindedly toss most of what we find in our mailboxes into the garbage without a second glance. Flyers, advertisements and credit card offers only take up space and create clutter.
Recently, I have tried to simplify my life, calling it “acts of less.” Eventually, I want to get to the point where I can fit my whole life in a van and drive across the country with it if I want to. Our society seems to stress that the point of this life is to accumulate tangible objects until we die from happiness, but I think joy comes from relationships and self-discovery. Happiness can be found in the simple things like making breakfast with the family, not in being absentmindedly rude to strangers so you are the first in line for Black Friday sales. I am learning through living, and my few years on this earth have been gradually teaching me about what matters.
The first step of my simplification experiment has been in communication and technology. Our minds move so fast these days. We focus less on what is happening in this moment and more on what will happen next. As my attention span dwindles, so does my ability to listen and truly hear those with whom I come in contact. My phone and computer often consume me, and the way I communicate with other people has disintegrated from real, genuine conversation to quick, surface-level chat. Human beings, in my opinion, were created for deeper connection, for more than 30 seconds of small talk at the checkout counter.
When we skim through our Facebook news feeds, we see the perfected versions of friends who, sometimes, we might have never actually met. They are just illusive ghost figures who live only on our computer screens. On paper, sometimes something magical happens and the pen reveals the truth. I am challenging myself over the next several months to reconstruct relationships, and I have chosen the mailbox as my main method. Several friends have chosen to collaborate with me in this experiment, so we write back and forth about once a week. Whether it is just a quick note to say “hi” or a novel-length ranting about how lonely it was to be home for the summer, separated from our college friends, these letters have made me feel a little less bored and a whole lot less disconnected from my faraway friends. One of my closest friends and pen pals, Hannah Haney, in a conversation about writing letters, told me, “I have used letters to stay in touch with a friend for six years. Our friendship is so much richer than it would have been without letters. They kept us in touch across countries and many life changes.” Oceans can be crossed via an envelope, and it is through the U.S. Postal Service that I have been able to keep in touch with several friends overseas in a meaningful way.
Writing by hand is an art form quickly disappearing, as the postal service falls into a heavy decline. Our beautiful town of Frisco could be the catalyst for a positive revolution in relationships. I believe in the power of the written word and its ability to change hearts and open minds. I believe in Frisco’s heart and its people’s desire to help each other grow as we detoxify ourselves in this world of excess.
Few things feel better than getting a handwritten letter in the mail. Knowing that someone took the time and energy to put pieces of their heart and express their thoughts through words builds a connection much stronger than any text message ever could. To write a letter, you have to actively seek someone out and think about them. Imagine receiving a love letter from your significant other, like they do in old black and white movies. What a romantic way to show you care! Maybe even hand
writing a surprise encouragement on a Post-it® note at the office will make a co-worker’s day a little brighter. Consider deepening your relationship with someone today by writing them a letter like you would like to receive. Take 10 minutes to write on paper instead of 10 seconds to type a text. May it be your first step in simplifying and enriching your days!