*Disclaimer: I am not a practitioner of Zen and/or Buddhism. I am using Zen in the common appropriation of the word as meaning calmness and ease of mind*
A few months ago when I began my adventures in letter writing and correspondence I found myself getting a little anxious as I approached my house each night in hopes that a letter, postcard or some other missive would be there awaiting me. I would try and anticipate the amount of time a letter would take to be received and a reply returned and I would stress or worry if the reply did not arrive within a day or two of my estimate. Upon receiving a letter I would rush through my evenings duties to sit down and reply, regardless of whether I felt inspired to do so or not. This I have discovered is not the way I want to enjoy personal correspondence.
I now enjoy a more relaxed, Zen-like pace of letting myself surrender to the ebb and flow of mail. I still enjoy receiving letters but I let be a surprise now and I have stop anticipating letters and just let them come to me and welcome them when they are there. I enjoy the moment of reading a message but I do not struggle to force a reply into the little time I may have or if I have nothing to write, I reply when I can and when I have something I would like to share. I find that this letting go of my expectations and embracing the moments has greatly increased my pleasure and quality of my letters.
One of the greatest things that has happened since I started using fountain pens is my subsequent discovery of the art of letter writing. As my collection of pens and inks grew I realized that I was accumulating more than I really needed for Journaling and that using some of the nice papers simply to write grocery lists wasn’t the best I could do.
I started small, I put my name on a Postcard exchange list and began swapping brief messages with people from all around the globe. Postcards soon left me feeling unsatisfied. It was great to get these in the mail but I found that they were not terribly conducive to a proper conversation , so I found a letter exchange list and jumped in with both feet.
I currently have about 10 pen pals and I think I may have reached my limit but who knows. I am exchanging letters with people from all walks of life, from the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Each pen pal offers something unique and interesting. I have pen pals with whom I can discuss parenting, books, pens, local farming and life in general. I have had conversations with people I might other wise never talk to and I find it has been great to help increase my understanding.
I have also found letter writing to be extremely therapeutic. It is extremely relaxing to sit down after a long day of working and parenting and compose a thought out letter. I might write some of the same thoughts in my journal but there is something satisfying in knowing that someone will read these thoughts and potentially provide some feedback.
If you have never or if it has been sometime since you have written a letter I say do it.