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Last week several things arrived in the post, ranging for the usual junk mail to items ordered from catalogs. Among these expected items was fairly thick white business envelope with a handwritten address. One has to be mindful with the mail; these rare nuggets can be easily accidentally thrown out with the rubbish. It was a letter, a four page composition of news and thoughts from a chum. The letter was about home and at work, with some self-reflections added. Tthe contents could have all been sent via text or telephone. Said friend is a blogger, so he could have written it all on line. He made the choice – and took the time – to write out his news and contents. Then he took the time to print it, put it in an envelope, and pop it in the post.  I took time as well to read it; I remember how to do this. I made a cup of tea, sat down, and read the letter slowly, giving it the respect a letter should receive.  It was the best thing I have received in the mail in ages. 

I used to write such letters; I suppose most of us did so. Once upon a time the title “A man of letters” was an honorable and enviable title coveted by both sexes. One prided oneself in ones penmanship and in ones prose. Most wrote as my friend did: to share life. Some wrote knowing their letters would be saved for posterity. Many saved these letters. I have two boxes of letters from long-ago deceased relations and my penpal from the 80s. I suppose I will read them again when I am old and gray and miserable.* If I had grandchildren, they would be read by them, shocked and titillated that silly-old Grandpa Spo was once young and had savior-faire. 

I don’t miss LP records or dial-phones, but I do miss letters. Letters always hit home, unlike texts and emails which are nearly always misconstrued and evoke anxiety and negative emotions. Letters made the arrival of the postman a delight: would I get a letter today? Nowadays nothing exciting or surprising arrives in the mail but rubbish and nasty certified letters of pending doom. 

I plan to write back to this friend, in time. Letter correspondences are not pingpong games viz. one needs to immediately lob back another lest the game drop. I think to try to revive this activity in general; I hope the recipients receive them with the same delight as I write them.  

*Soon enough, babycakes.

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October 2021

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018