catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 11, Num 21 :: 2012.11.23 — 2012.12.06


Call me old-fashioned

I have always had a particular fondness toward the old-fashioned handwritten note. I know it is not terribly practical anymore and it uses resources like paper, ink and the post office if it’s being mailed. The cost of the stamp is steadily increasing, so why would anyone want to write something by hand and then mail it so it gets to someone days later when one could send an e-mail or message on Facebook instantly? But I believe there is a place for something special in the extra effort of a gesture so small in many aspects of life.

I know the efficiencies of technology can be good. The ability to communicate with your family and friends instantly is helpful when going back and forth about weekend plans. But may I play the old-time card and say that perhaps these instant communication capabilities sometimes feed into our culture’s ever-growing “instant gratification” and “I want it now” mentality? We can order anything online and have it arrive on our doorstep the next day. We can purchase an e-book and read it instantly. I suppose there is little chance of turning back now that patience is no longer a virtue but a hindrance to getting what you want right now. Who wants to save up for that trip anymore? Or that new sofa? Just charge it and get it now! Worry about the credit card debt later, or not at all.

The problem is that we are emotional creatures and we change our minds a lot. No wonder relationships fall apart when people change their minds and are not willing to work through problems. Did they know that getting through the problems together makes them stronger in the end? The good is worth fighting for, and sometimes patience is of utmost importance. So what happened to the thoughtful processes of waiting patiently?

I flipped open to Proverbs the other night and came across these little lines that jumped off the page:

Ponder the path of your feet;

Then all your ways will be sure. (4:26)

In other words: don’t be too hasty. Be thoughtful in your actions. Don’t leap before you look.

Back to the simple hand-written note. The reason I enjoy both giving and receiving such an out-dated item is because it takes extra effort and thought. When you write longhand, you are forced to slow down and form your letters in ink. I don’t know about you but my mind moves faster than my hand, so my hand tries to keep up. All the while you are thinking about what you are writing. And it holds something else that is special: your handwriting. When you send a card to someone who is sick or mourning, your handwriting is comforting.  It’s like sending a tiny piece of your unique self to that person you may not be able to see at that time.

Without a doubt, there are countless advantages to the technology advances in communication. There is a place for those efficiencies, like at work. I think about how many e-mails I receive and send everyday. If I had to call all those people, or receive a call from them, I would be on the phone all day, and that would be my eight hours. The business world is fast-paced; multi-tasking and communicating is absolutely essential. E-mail makes that possible.

Yet there is a place for less efficient methods of communication. Personal notes and cards may not be instant, but when the recipient opens the mailboxes and sees your handwriting, they feel an instant sensation of joy, to be sure. While life can move at a thousand miles per hour, sometimes it is the little things that make you slow down to think and process that can be so encouraging to others.

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