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The Art of The Letter

Summer (2018) of Love

I place great stock upon letter-writing. It’s a joy and a means of confiding to a person outside of myself the innermost thoughts and feelings of myself. A letter of love, a letter of friendship, a letter of gratitude, a letter of joy: they resound with music of the heart. It’s been said of late that the art of letter-writing is lost. Paper letter-writing has become a lost way of life, largely because of the Internet. I tended to agree with those pronouncements when first I heard them a few years ago. I do not agree with them now. What is being lost, or forgotten, is the music of the heart.

The writing of a letter, be it on fine Crane’s stationery or on a lowly sheet from a notepad, requires honesty of mind and purity of heart and — clarity of thought. If you don’t know what the heck you’re thinking, how can you put any contemplation down on paper?! Those places within the self are the minimum starting points for the pen that will flow with untold tellings from one person to another. If any art has been lost, or discarded, it is the art of knowing your own true self. Revelation of that genuine person to another person is a bonus, a benefit, and a blessing to the happy soul who exactly knows who she is. Only from a full coffer of character can anyone offer to another human being the spontaneous delights from a hand-written letter.

The summer of love lasts deep into December when the melody of kindness is written with words from the heart.

Many were the times when I wrote to a friend and felt a sense of comfort in knowing that I’d made my best effort to say what needed to be said, at that very moment, to that person. There is a unique warmth that one receives in the giving of words that the other person needs to hear. That warmth lights up a bitterly cold winter night for both giver and receiver. It can sustain any weary pilgrim during the hottest of summer days with a smile that says, “You’re not alone. I’ve felt that way too.”

It matters not if your letter is answered right away, or at all. Sometimes it’s better if there is no written response. A friend can sense the advantages of silence, once the words that need to be said have been said. Meditation is the repose that re-seals the envelope with that piece of paper, the letter, written from a loving heart, and re-read, discovered anew, during moments of solemnity. That letter is a way for the person to always . . . look back . . . and remember. In that wondrous way, yesterday becomes forever.

The crucial component in the composition is the heart that cares enough to send compassion. The Hallmark Store made a mint off of that very basic human need to share and to care!

I wonder, looking back upon my years of penning personal correspondences, if I was, at times, writing letters to myself. The receiver of my confidences did not always merit the honesty I poured into my correspondences. The merry-go-round of “staying in touch” proved once too often to be an empty ride for me. My heartfelt thoughts composed those letters to myself, filled with words that scarcely hit the mark of the other heart. There hadn’t been much of a heart at which to aim. I believe, nonetheless, that my heart was enriched by my own missives. Perhaps that hardy endowment of my spirit had been the objective all along.

Among the more poetic of missives there is, of course, the Love Letter. This art form has become battered and bruised, more by women than by men. Modern humanity needs to get a hold of Alexander Pushkin and his symphony of love, Tatiana’s Letter. True, it’s a bit long, but Pushkin was not known for his brevity, only his unbridled passion. There was a man who died for love! Love, and its letters, have been tormented long enough. I say bring back the scarlet letters, the poisoned pens, those too-hot-to-handle envelopes with the passionate prose that break all the rules. And seal those things with a kiss!

The things that pass for billets-doux nowadays are pathetic. Texting and sexting are enough to break the heart of a true romantic! Don’t give up! There’s a moonlight serenade waiting to be composed in sentences, those tones of tenderness on linen paper, this very day.

Most cherished to me are the letters that are almost unnecessary. The written communication between myself and the correspondent amounts to a reduction in the silently shared consciousness that love has created. Words cannot express the profound emotions, and yet somehow each of us feels the need to share words so that souvenirs can endure for each of us to hold, for at least a while. Those material possessions truly are keys to the heart. The art of letter-writing is a measure of the contents of one’s conscience. I’ve known people who wrote lovely letters and did not mean many words within them. The missives consisted of Personal PR that conned trusting fools like me. There is no sincerity like a woman lying!

I’ve also known individuals who put forth honorable testaments from hearts that were trying to survive pain and grief and despairing confusion. The frank sentiments were palpable upon those pages, even if the phrases were, at times, inelegant. I treasure those confessions of conscience as jewels of the art of letter-writing. They play upon my heart-strings like a wistful melody. “Stardust” by Hoagy Carmichael best expresses the mood, and it is no coincidence that I make use of this song in THE DAWN. The art of letter-writing is the art of the heart. I shan’t go on about the electronic correspondences that have become inflammatory headlines for hucksters. Whenever a truly personal statement must be made, snail mail is the only way to go to realize that memory-in-the-making. The art of pen-making is making a comeback too!


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