Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Power of the Written Word

I wanted to share a blog post I found.  I normally don't just follow random blogs.  I generally only follow the blogs I actually have an interest in.  This one was a random exception though.  I ended up following this person from people posting their blogs on Etsy.  Every now and then I check out the posts.  This one struck me: The Mother Load.

I didn't know until this post that this blogger and artist is deaf.  Her post about the power of the written word is inspiring.  She has pen pals from all over the place and it has filled her with culture and perspective.  I feel ignorant by comparison!  Yet, there are many things I can enjoy that she cannot that I take for granted on a daily basis.

Felicity writes of a mountainous pile of mismatched packages: "Dear Penpals, This is every piece of mail I received in 2010. You know I'm deaf. I can't chat with people over coffee. I can't call people on the phone to discuss banal minutiae. I can't go to the movies or watch TV or discuss popular culture."

I'm afraid the written word is a dying art.  Time comes at such a premium these days, hence the rise of email and texting, and twitter and all other forms of e-spam.  We inundate ourselves with to-the-moment information but what we gain in quantity, we lose in quality.

If you take the time to sit down and put pen to paper for one person and one person only, that means something to them.  Plus, going to the post office is also a sign of that extra nugget of effort.  Emails and mass mail letters are not nearly as special as a letter from me to you.  Yes, you and you alone.  Wouldn't that make you feel special?

The Jim Henson movie, the Dark Crystal, said it perfectly.  Two characters come across symbols carved in a rock.  One says that he knows what it is: it's writing.  The other asks what writing is.  He replies, "Words that stay."

Not long after my mother died when I was cleaning out her apartment, I found some notes of hers in binders - mostly her keeping track of things like car repairs and bill payments and other ordinary things.  I instantly recognized the shape of her letters.  They resemble my grandmother's handwriting and all of my mother's sisters have their own spin on it but Grandma's handwriting is still recognizable as the original matriarch.  I examined the paper.  I could feel the stroke impressions in the back of the paper.  It was so tangible.  It was a tiny, everyday piece of her left behind for me to see and touch.  Words that stay, indeed.

Go ahead.  Read Felicity's blog post.  You will smile.


  1. Hi!
    I'm touched to hear your thoughts on my blog post, thank you! I save a lot of emails that are special to me, but like you said it's totally not the same. You can't touch them or keep them and tuck them into a special place. There is something so comforting about a physical piece of paper and I love that you can encounter real letters with all 5 senses. I'm going to remember "words that stay" I like that a lot.

    Best to you, Felicity

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I wouldn't have seen it otherwise.
    I so agree, a letter in the mail, to me is happy mail.
    And they are so far and few between now a days.
    Finding something that my relatives have written on is a true treasure.


Thank-you for sharing your thoughts.