28 Jul Letter to the Future
“I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter…”
I remember the thrill. Every day, when coming back from school, I was looking into the metal-made green mailbox planted on the left dirty-white wall, at the entrance of our block of flats. My family received all kinds of mail – bills, promotions, offers, magazines and many more. But I didn’t care for those. I was waiting for my letters.
Communication is an essential feature of humanity: without it, we would have never evolved into what we are today, as society and individuals. Writing letters has been just one of the many forms of communication, but what a difference it has made for humanity! Such notes have been around for millenniums (about four, according to historians); in fact, letters have been invented before paper.
To put down their thoughts or messages, people used clay or wax tablets, papyrus, animal skins or palm leaves, depending on their geographic location and the level of development achieved by their societies.
An entire industry has risen alongside the evolution of letters: writing techniques and instruments have been created and passed on to future generations. Calligraphy became an art; writing letters transformed into a fascinating literary genre. Age after age, the spectacular heritage of humankind has grown rich with hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of letters, covering all possible fields and aspects of our existence. Wars have been avoided thanks to gracious, strategic notes, and alliances have been broken due to uninspired (or unclear) messages.
“How to write a letter” became a field of study which was taught in schools by specialized teachers.
Experts created books about the various techniques of writing letters. There were many different rules and styles – no wonder the art of writing a letter had to be studied in academic institutions! Ancient Greece knew at least 41 types of letters: private documents, literary writings, poetic, love letters, imitations, and novel-letters, to name a few.
I was an inquisitive child, always inspecting every box full of things kept by my grandparents in their country house. The entire history of three generations of my family was hidden in the documents protected by those boxes. Much of that history I learned from reading all the letters I could find. I loved letters ever since.
In modern times, letters have become movie stories: they are key-elements of plots or the solution nobody expects in a problematic situation. The film industry has made the most of the importance of letters for human society, and there are countless movies to prove that. Then, internet civilization changed everything, starting with the way we communicate. Hand-writing letters implied an absolute peace of mind, a ritual; nowadays, the always-in-a-hurry modern society has no time for such routines.
There was a particular emotion involved in preparing the clean white pages, taking the pen and thinking about what words would follow the “Dear friend…” opener.
In present times, communication has to be short, effective and efficient.
Romance, wisdom, satire, poetry, fun or arguments have to fit only 280 characters, in some cases. Our computers count the words we use; we mainly read the titles, and run away if the articles seem too long (according to the new standards).
Life has never been the same since “you’ve got mail.” Everything changed, from the way we conduct our businesses to the way we love. Social media took things to an even more advanced level: nobody is a stranger anymore; there are just people we haven’t “befriended” yet. We still follow some guiding rules – for academic letters, commercial messages, diplomatic correspondence, and other fixed form writings; but when it comes to communicating with each other, we merely text.
Imagine the (probably) billions of messages, instructions, memoirs, statements, love or war declarations, of lessons, erudition, secrets, confessions, truths or lies which have been put into writing throughout four millenniums! They make up a dramatic and captivating history of humankind, so very different from the one in our history books. It’s a history of people’s dreams, fears and hopes; it’s a token of successes or failures; it’s a testimonial of greatness and decadence, good and evil altogether.
But what if we could reinvent letters? What if we could use the incredible technology at our disposal to recreate something that may seem lost – a feeling, a state of mind – and to give life to an outstanding gift for someone we love? And what if we could arrange for a letter written today to be delivered to its destination in the future?
Write a letter to someone you love. Or, write a letter to self. Choose the possibility of storing it and mailing it next year or ten years from now. Enjoy the serenity of writing, from the heart, words for the time to come.
Imagine how much joy and emotion that letter will create when reaching its destination!
Make your letter-to-the-future the beginning of a great story!