Words are powerful. In some cultures it is believed that by merely speaking words about someone, positive or negative, can act as a spell. That whomever you are speaking about will start to manifest signs of your words. It also works with the self. The things you say about yourself become a reality, good or bad. In the Western world we refer to this as the Self Fulfilling Prophecy. It is the same principle as positive/negative self speak and gossiping. Words are powerful.
My sister and I recently had a conversation about words. Sentences formed in well crafted, or sometimes emotional spattering, that speak truths from the heart. And how very sad it is that our culture has lost the art of the written word. Of course books are still being published and the magazine industry isn't in trouble. However, what happened to the hand written letter? Remember when we wrote them and mailed them and had to wait in anticipation for person to receive it or to get one in the mailbox. Now we just sit before a computer and type an email, hit send and there it is ready to be glanced at and sifted through during a boring meeting or right before the movie begins. And with social media such as Facebook and Twitter, one can just "post" their thoughts and make them ambiguous. There's little personalization.
When I moved away from the place I grew up, I relied on letters. Any time I received a letter in the mail I tore it open as soon as possible to read the note and see the drawings all scribbled because my friends and sister were always the kind to add a few extra pieces from the heart. They were full of sentimentality and inside jokes and I kept them in a shoebox to look over again and again when I felt like I missed them and wanted their presence and energy in my day. I would also send letters. Taking an afternoon to design my thoughts and perfect my handwriting so that it was legible. Mailing letters felt electric. As if I were sending them a piece of my heart. And for me, it was a piece of my heart. It was cheaper than a long distance phone call, and lingered past the last "I love you" when we hung up the telephone.
In 1997 I had a young summer love just as the internet and emailed started to make its appearance in out every day lives. This was pretty typical - I met a boy who loved far away and we were too young to really do anything with a relationship. Neither of us were internet/email experts and we would send letters to one another filled with long term dreams and fantasies about a life far down the road where we lived in the same town and lived happily...well, you know. I still keep in contact with this boy...now a man. I hear from him via email probably once a month and he updates me on his life and plans. Sometimes he sends me links to projects he is working on and we just trade ideas, dreams, fears. It is all really similar to our summer romance except for the 161 years of life that have happened in between. Once, in a long sentimental email, he admitted to me that he had kept a box of letters I had sent to him and sometimes he's read through them and remember that time. A time of innocence and beginnings. We knew very little about the years that were ahead of us and there is, somehow, a great comfort in that ignorance. It meant a lot to me that he had kept those letters, and even more that he told me.
I tend to wander over to the sentimental side quite often. I keep useless little pieces of paper and things that remind me of someone. Especially things that have their handwriting on it. I used to feel strange about it but now that all of my grandparents are gone, when I come across something they've written I just stare at it for a while. It's lovely to see their penmanship whether it's perfect or raw. It's from their own hands.
I enjoy reading letters. In fact I got my first tattoo this year and a piece of is is from a love letter written by Beethoven to his true love. Those words in their honest, desperate, most heart wrenching moments found their way on to a page hundreds of years ago. And they found their way in to my heart and finally, on to my body as a permanent piece of something I believe in with my entire being. And in this one piece, it pretty much sums up everything I have pondered. The emotion, the anticipation, the patience. It's all there - written by someone who also created some of the world's most beautiful music.
" Good morning, on July 7
Though still in bed, my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, now
and then joyfully, then sadly, waiting to learn whether or not fate
will hear us - I can live only wholly with you or not at all - Yes, I am
resolved to wander so long away from you until I can fly to your arms
and say that I am really at home with you, and can send my soul
enwrapped in you into the land of spirits - Yes, unhappily it must be so
- You will
be the more contained since you know my fidelity to you. No one else can
ever possess my heart - never - never - Oh God, why must one be parted
from one whom one so loves. And yet my life in V is now a wretched life -
Your love makes me at once the happiest and the unhappiest of men - At
my age I need a steady, quiet life - can that be so in our connection?
My angel, I have just been told that the mailcoach goes every day -
I must close at once so that you may receive the letter at once - Be
calm, only by a calm consideration of our existence can we achieve our
to live together - Be calm - love me - today - yesterday - what tearful
longings for you - you - you - my life - my all - farewell. Oh continue
to love me - never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved.