I have asked the Bozeman Public Library to help me with a long-held project. In January the Library will be celebrating the extraordinary beauty of handwriting letters (and sending them!) We invite you to join us in an exploration of thousands of years of history through letters sent in love and battle, business and play, and to expand your own understanding of what a letter can be. We are all burdened by the unsent. We all have letters that we need to write, wish we had written, correspondences we want to start and then cherish. What ideas might start if, periodically, a modest wave of handwritten notes washed out into the world from Bozeman, Montana?
The tsunami of electronic correspondence has led some to declare handwriting letters a “dying art”, but the qualities of the handwritten letter are also exactly those that so many are actively seeking a return to. A letter brings out the best in both the writer and the reader, and inspires both to write more. It connects. It sets you as a writer apart, carries the grace of centuries of civilization, and says that you care by its sheer existence. It is private, and courteously waits for your full attention. It can be created with an infinite combination of colors, textures, scents, insertions, quotations, poems, calligraphy, shapes, emotions and methods of delivery. It pays debts of thanks, apology and sympathy with weight and aplomb. It is a great equalizer, as anyone may write to absolutely anyone. It is a simple and frugal pleasure, and an art form capable of infinite surprise. Each one is unique.
Come visit the letter-writing pavilion in the Library this next month. Bring donations of cards and stationary that have been sitting reproachfully in your drawer, and start fresh, surrounded by inspiration and assistance. And then put a stamp on it. And mail it — a pebble tossed creating ripples unknown.