My whole life I have exchanged letters with my gramma. We talk about important things. We talk about mundane things. I have asked for advice. She has given advice. We send poems and photos to each other and share bits of our lives. Although we have always lived far apart, my gramma has been a major influence on my life through her letters.
My gramma is certainly the person I have corresponded with most, although I have also kept up with other family and friends through letters. Sending birthday and holiday cards is one of my favorite ways to reach out and touch someone. Emails and texts are great, and I send those all the time, but there is something significant and special about receiving a message in a physical form. Holding a piece of something that was held by someone I know and love makes the distance between us feel less significant.
Letters can also be a useful way to process emotions and find catharsis. This week I wrote a letter to an x-boyfriend. I said all the things I should have said during the end of our relationship. All the things I didn't say because he would not have heard me anyway. I may or may not actually send this letter, but that wasn't the point. I needed to say the things, whether he ever hears them or not.
I feel similarly about writing to elected officials, which is another thing I have been doing for most of my life. My great hope is that they read my words and take them in, but sometimes I just need to say things to them, whether they listen or not. Emails are great for this because they are instant, and because I can type much faster than I can write. So this week when I was outraged by the City Council's budget amendments vote, I fired-off a few quick and upset emails.
I assume hand-written letters make a bigger emotional impact, even though these days I usually send electronic letters to my elected officials. When I worked for the federal government, sometimes people would ask how to contact my supervisor because they were so pleased with my service. I would give the address and go about my workday. Whenever a complimentary letter arrived in the mail, it was a very big deal. Someone who invested the time and energy to write and send a physical letter amplified their appreciation by all that effort.
Letters are less frequent in today’s era of email and instant messages, but that makes them feel even more significant. I feel a special kind of joy when, amongst all the ads and credit card offers and magazines I didn't order, I receive a letter from someone I know. Letters are an significant reminder of human connection as well as a powerful tool of self-expression.
Now is an important time to use all our available resources to express ourselves to the humans who run our government, and to demand change. Lift up your voice. Use your voice to lift up the voices of others who are frequently overlooked. Speak out, comment on social media, send emails, write letters. Send a little piece of your humanity through the mail as a reminder to the people in power that they are supposed to be working for us and that we are paying attention to how they show up.
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Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.