It has been a dark year, personally for certain, but also culturally, politically, and environmentally. I lost my father unexpectedly. People have been put in charge who care only about their power as they exploit the earth and the diverse people who inhabit it. We lost so many visionaries: storytellers who saw magic in the world, sexy gender-boundary expanders, frank discussants of personal experiences with mental illness, composers of heart-expanding music. We lost black lives that mattered, queer lives that mattered, and poor lives that mattered because there are many in power who do not yet see the beauty and value in each of us.
Most of us are afraid of the dark. But the dark–of the night, of the future–though filled with dangers real and imagined, is also the darkness of possibility. The darkness of soil or womb in which a seed planted, grows, moving towards the light. A seed sprouting first, always, in the dark, the light being an inhospitable place for potential to begin the transformation into actual.
So as I sit in the dark tomorrow, saying goodbye to a year that was and hello to what will be, I will be that seed of possibility: bursting forth into the new year, reaching for the light.
My dad passed away quite suddenly in February and I miss him dearly. I wanted to recognize his passing here at Save Snail Mail because he was this blog’s biggest fan. He checked it regularly, was one of my first commenters, and encouraged me to write more (nay, nagged me!) when it had been a while since I’d posted. Here is one of his blog comments from last October:
I know you have moved in to a new house and traveled everywhere for pleasure and business but it has been six months and snail mail has been getting slower and slower and may disappear completely without your dynamic presence. See ya….
My dad was instrumental in engendering in me an early love for office and stationery supplies. Our back-to-school shopping sprees were EPIC! We bonded over pens and pencils and protractors and paper.
He always chose and sent the best birthday cards, Valentine cards, and Christmas cards. He even remembered special events like our wedding anniversary. He sent me a postcard when I was a baby before I could read. I turned it into a fathers day card for him over 30 years later. He was so diligent about getting cards to us on time that a couple days before he passed, while in a hospital bed, he apologized because he hadn’t gotten to the post office to get Kris’ birthday card and present in the mail!
He was a sweet, loving, generous man and he will be dearly missed. Having cards and letters from him, in his handwriting, help me enjoy the memories a bit more clearly and for that, I am very thankful.
Wow. Time flies, doesn’t it? It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I still think a lot about “snail mail” and how to save it.
I moved in May to a new home, and that came with lots of unpacking and home projects and new visitors (because we now have a guest bedroom!) and these things filled the space I may have previously filled with letter writing and mail art.
But my creative space (a reclaimed formerly windowless basement room) is nearly remodeled and soon I’ll have a dedicated space to return to the handwritten pleasures of life. I’m hoping that means more fodder for this blog, too!
I’m writing now, because I read today this piece from Brain Pickings about Rebecca Solnit’s new book The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness in which she talks about how modern of tweets and texts are affecting our communication and also our expression of ourselves.
Here is a quote BrainPickings shared from her book.
As I ran my fingers over the lined paper, words subtly debossed by the pressure of my grandmother’s ballpoint pen, I wondered about the continuity of personal identity across this shift — my letter-writing self seemed to have entirely different things to say, and to say them entirely differently, than my email-writing self, and yet the two selves belong to the same person. Each appears to be a dormant potentiality, beckoned forth by the respective medium of expression — something that makes it hard not to notice, and hard not to worry about, how such shifts in medium might shape what parts of ourselves we manifest, which in turn add up to the sum total of our personal identity.
Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 155th anniversary of the Pony Express. It features a game that lets you be a Pony Express rider, picking up letters, switching horses, and avoiding the treacherous obstacles that faced these riders as they traveled across the U.S. in the 19th century. It is a lot of fun, especially when you fall off!
You can find the Pony Express Google Doodle archived here after April 14th.
And here is a great video on the making of the Doodle, with a little Pony Express history.
Today, March 20th, people all over the globe are trying to increase happiness in the one way that works best, connecting with others.
Organizers of the event are encouraging us to connect with people by saying Say “Hi” to strangers, call an old friend, share with others something that makes you smile, go outside and talk to a neighbor, volunteer in your community. And then let this good feeling flow through you–brought on by connection!
So, today, follow E.M. Forster’s advice and “Only connect…” and if that connection is via snail mail, then all the better!
Dr. Seuss would have been 111 yesterday. By total coincidence, my creative wife sculpted a Cat in the Hat around our mailbox after our recent big snow. My mailbox usually makes me happy, but it was almost magical for a few days!
You have nearly two weeks left to send off your thanks for the many kindnesses folks have done recently–holiday gifts, parties, errands, or for just being your friend. If you need a refresher on the basics on writing a thank you note, here you go.
And if you really want to say thank you, you can send a bottle of bubbly in a beautiful mailbox. Veuve Clicquot has recently had a design contest to redesign their mailboxes. Check out these babies. My favorite is the play on words–“chain mail box.”
Have you made any resolutions? I usually welcome a new year as an opportunity to revamp absolutely everything about myself–health, friendships, house cleaning, artistic endeavors, flossing routines. I figure if I try to change everything, something good will stick. This usually works out and is also more fun than choosing just one big thing and being disappointed when it doesn’t.
In case you’re looking for more resolutions to add to your list (or just one good one), you might consider adding more letter writing to your life. Snail mail enthusiasts (which I assume you, dear reader, are) might already write a lot of letters. But in case you are more of a postal voyeur, or you are looking for a bit of encouragement to put pen to paper, you might consider what Emily did. She wrote a letter a week for a year to someone important in her life, extolling their virtues and her thankfullness for having them in her life. I think this is 1) a reasonable pace and 2) a good way of reminding yourself to consciously appreciate what people bring into your life. Friends, coworkers, family and near-strangers might bring joy, a sense of humor, good cooking, or a keen eye for detail. And people like being recognized for the unique gifts they bring to others. It’s a win-win.
If you are feeling really frisky–you could to a thank you note a day like John Kralik. He says all that focus on the good things he experienced every day (to which he had to pay attention so he could send a thank you note) changed his life!
In the post-holiday lull, it’s a good time to send those notes of gratitude for holiday kindnesses and it’s a nice way to brighten up a cold, dreary month. Happy writing!