Even though I moved seven months ago, I'm still unpacking boxes. A couple of weekends ago, I came across several letters my dad had written to me. And you know what comes next.
I got lost in them, reading information and advice he wanted to share with me in 1984 and ‘85. We lived hundreds of miles from each other most of my life, but he took time to clip newspaper articles about things I cared about and send them to me in his letters.
In these three letters, he sent me articles about Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne (little did he know that I'd interview him one day) and about Elvis because I was a fan of both. Dad dropped in tidbits of advice or observations to go with the stories as he underlined sections. One such tidbit was to listen to both sides of every story.
In these letters, he also offered me advice about my girl troubles. He suspected that the girl I was interested in was playing games with me. I won’t share his advice, but I got a chuckle out of it all these years later.
And he was always checking on my car, asking if I was keeping up on the maintenance.
Seeing his distinct handwriting a couple of weekends ago was both a thrill and heartbreaking (he passed away in 2000). But I’m so thankful he left his love for me on the page so I can still feel it some thirty-five years later.
It probably sounds like I’m going to reminisce about old letters today, but I’m not doing that as much as I'm thinking about the depths we used to plumb when writing letters was the common means of long-distance communication.
Something about the informality and immediacy of being able to write somebody an email or text today seems to lead us to think we can dash off a couple of sentences now and always go deeper later.
Later never seems to happen, though, does it?
Letter writing used to be an activity for which I’d set aside time. It was an event, and I looked forward to it. Maybe you did, too. But writing email doesn't have the same feel, so we don't treat it the same way. That's my theory, at least.
Exceptions do exist. Every Friday, I hear from a number of you who willingly share snippets of your life with me after you've read this newsletter. You make it feel like a return to letter writing.
The funny thing is, authors are often driven to write books because they want to connect with people on a deep level. I certainly hope to do so with the readers of my books. But it doesn't replace corresponding with readers one-on-one. That’s what makes this newsletter so special to me.
I think it’s also reawakened my interest in going deeper via email with other people I know. In fact, as soon as I had that thought, I realized I really want to email someone and offer her some encouragement over something she's going through.
How about you? Is there someone in your life who needs some encouragement that you can touch base with via email this weekend? Make it an event.