Talking Feather Time: Pen & Paper

I heard that the greeting card company, Papyrus, is closing. Their cards were a little expensive, but the designs were good. The reason given was that people no longer write cards but have moved to E-messaging: Facebook, Texts, Emojis and Instagram. In a digital age selling cards is becoming no longer commercially viable.

When I first arrived in the U.S. international phone calls were prohibitively expensive. My parents would write weekly, and I wrote back to them. A handwritten card or letter has an intrinsically intimate, personal touch that cannot be replaced by Emails, or digital communication. A person’s handwriting is distinctive conveying something of their essence, individuality and personality. The shape and flow of the letters, the ink they used even the paper are matters of choice and intention bridging gulfs of distance, time and even death. In our urge to compress time, we have traded intimacy for immediacy, efficiency, convenience and the ephemeral. I too mostly send Emails and use texts like everyone else, but sense that something extraordinarily valuable is being lost in this instant digital culture.

 I keep a small precious packet of handwritten cards and letters from family, good friends and well-wishers. My mother’s last letter is in my Bible. I have a card from an inmate in Limestone prison that is illustrated and handmade. I have some that are supportive and encouraging from times when I’ve struggled and of course, I have my grandchildren’s cards with their first painstakingly formed letters and spelling.

Valentine’s Day approaches. It’s a complicated day: Grief and heartache for some, flowers and chocolates for others. Take time to send something of yourself that’s personal, heartfelt and handwritten. Send a message that can’t be deleted with a click and consigned to the black hole of cyberspace. Your thoughts and messages of love are valuable. Crazy though it seems, handwriting itself has become a small form of cultural resistance! Yes, I recognize the irony in sending this by Email!


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