A Year of Gifts
How often do you actually write something down on paper? In our fast-paced world of emails, texts and gadgets, do you ever stop to think about the ramifications of recording so much of our lives only in the electronic realm? As the online world continues to evolve at a rapid pace, will essential bits of history be lost forever? Are things becoming too generic?
The benefits of electronic communication are many. Speed, convenience and efficiency are all improved. Less of the world's forests are lost to the production of paper. The list of benefits is long.
But there are almost always pros and cons to everything.
There is something to be said about the ability to hold something tangible in your hands. Something that won't be lost among the massive amount of online information. Photographs, books and personal correspondence are all things we can now enjoy in electronic form, but I think we need to keep a balance.
How information is passed on from one generation to another has been evolving since the beginning of mankind, but the leap from physical to electronic formats is a giant one.
When we write something down on paper, it bears our own unique handwriting. When we dash off a note in an email, that small piece of personal flair is lost.
Handwriting itself is an evolving art form. Personally, I love old documents bearing beautiful penmanship. Imagine for a minute the amount of practice that had to go into learning to create such intricate, stylistic writing. When I was a child, we were required to learn cursive. I’m thankful for this. Many kids aren't even taught to write in cursive anymore. Taken a step further, when they don't learn how to write in cursive, they can't read it either. I found this gorgeous workbook at an auction. The pages are full of someone's practiced letters.
For years, I've been tossing various greeting cards we've received into a box. There is a box for each of us, and at this point, they are overflowing. During my more practical moments, I consider tossing all of it. After all, the boxes take up space. We seldom go back to look at what is in them. But if I take a step back from the urge to purge, I think the best answer is to weed through them and keep the special ones.
A card or note from a loved one suddenly becomes more precious when the sender is no longer with us. Gazing upon a quick greeting they dashed off in their own unique style links me back to the person they were, and I'd hate to lose that, no matter how much space I'm giving up to house the memories.
My mom's sloppy handwriting was legendary. Now when I read things she wrote to me over the years, and I still struggle to make out the words, I can't help but smile. Those cards provide me with a tangible link back to her. I'll never again be able to pick up the phone and talk to her, but I can feel her presence in those notes.
My dad, on the other hand, is an artist. His handwriting is unique, bold, and I'd recognize it anywhere. Similar to so many things he's created through the years, it's all him.
Have you ever written in journals? Maybe you kept a diary when you were a kid. If you did, and you're lucky enough to still have it, stashed somewhere among your old mementos from earlier days, pull it out and take a look. Revisit yourself, back when it felt like you had your whole life ahead of you. What was important to you back then? Did those things evolve into your core values or were they fleeting thoughts of a child?
Or maybe you have journals from five, ten, or twenty years ago. Take a few minutes to glance through them to remind yourself of what your life looked like back then. What's changed? If those journals were a way for you to record your hopes and dreams, has the reality of the years measured up?
Similar to the reminder we get when we attend a funeral, that life passes much too quickly, reading our personal thoughts from fifteen years ago can serve as a wake-up call to make the most of our time. Maybe it can even serve as the impetus to get going on that one thing you always dreamed of doing.
Can we get the same kick from something we recorded in an electronic document ten years ago? Could you even find anything you put in an electronic format ten years ago? I doubt it.
Today's blog isn't meant to bash the convenience and efficiency of online communication. Both my day job and my writing career revolve around it. But it is intended to serve as a reminder that putting things down on paper still has merit. And if you can record it in beautiful, practiced handwriting, even better!
I touch upon this issue in my fiction series. Each book is about how family members expand on the legacy left by their great aunt, Celia. She is dead now, and the only form of direct communication they still have from her is in the form of letters and journals. If not for those written documents, it might be as if she never even existed.
Maybe today's finally the day you should sit down and dash off a handwritten letter to a loved one. Or what if you take a few minutes to record your thoughts on how important your family is to you in a journal they'll find when you are gone? Think about how priceless that could be. There's no time like the present! Kim
Kimberly Diede Author
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!