Letters Take You Places
Letters take you to unexpected places sometimes. It's not so much that you actually go anywhere, but I've yet to meet a letter writer that would ever say letters don't take you somewhere.
When I was in high school, I remember spending some evenings with a pen in my hand and the most beautiful vintage stationery at my side. I had pen pals in the Western United States, the UK and Mexico at that time. When a letter came back from one of those far-off places, the physical world around me would bokeh, turning into background blur, and become a frame for the places I was visiting in the letters from my friends.
Letters take you to unexpected places, yes.
When I discovered yoga in 2006, I went whole hog with it. My yoga honeymoon was intense. It wasn't a matter of what class to take, it was a matter of how many classes could I take. I consumed book after book, sought out philosophical lectures online about all kinds of concepts that were new to me. Yoga is really all about introspection and my first few years of yoga were really a discovery of the inside of myself. I realized rather quickly, though, that I had already been doing this in my letters.
I think of letter writers as yogis in a way. Instead of a mat, they have a pen. Instead of meditation and mantra, they have details and stories to share letter-by-letter, and their mantra might be the way they always sign their letters. My mail mantra? It's always "Love & Letters." If you've ever gotten a letter from me, you'll see that on the bottom of the last page.
Sometimes, letters take you into discussions and conversations you absolutely wouldn't have 'in real life.' And, I think because there are parts of letter writing that are almost hyper-real, many letter writers tend to reveal more of their actual truths. I've noticed that in day-to-day life, and face-to-face interactions, even with people we are close with, a part of us is always carefully choosing our words based on the feedback we're getting from the person we're talking to.
When you write a letter, you are letting it all out there. You are not getting any feedback from the person you are writing to. There is no wince of the face, or slight smile or interruption in your train of thought. It's just you, and what you have to say. So, I think, we tend to just say it.
These unexpected places I'm talking about, these places are where we don't get to go in 'real', face-t0-face life very often. The most special place of all that you can get to in a letter that you maybe won't ever get to in 'real life' is a place of true vulnerability—someone else's or your own.
I have letters that are the most magnificent pieces of writing. And I will never share them. With anyone. These are letters where people that I care so deeply for reveal their greatest aches and pains and highs and lows. The vulnerable places people let me into? They are the jewels of my life.
The best part of letter writing for me are the unexpected places. And that is why I write.