Letter writing it seems is a dying artform. Lots of people say, "Oh no! I don't write letters anymore. I just send emails." True at one level. I can type much faster than I can write with pen and paper these days. But it isn't true at another level, because how many of us actually correspond with others via email? I send lots of emails - but they are mostly short, usually on one subject, written with the aim of getting something done. I think I am keeping up with those who are beyond my immediate vicinity. But actually, I'm not. Because I rarely write a letter these days. I think I have had two bursts of letter writing this year. And I don't seem to get around to writing emails that would count as correspondence all that often.
This year, with my friends in Kiribati, I have been trying to keep in touch regularly. Telephone calls haven't really been an option, although there have a been one or two lovely phone conversations. I have written them two or three letters - and they do get there but it takes about three weeks. Which is good, really. But mostly I have been emailing.
Sometimes I hit a busy patch (or so I perceive it to be) and I don't email for a while. But in recent months I have decided that I'm sure my friends would rather get a short email that not hear from us at all. It's the keeping in touch that counts.
And so one day, in the midst of a busy patch, I had twenty minutes exactly. I can't remember what it was that was happening on the otherside of the twenty minutes...time to collect the children from school, time to start preparations for tea...no matter. I had twenty minutes. Not the sort of twenty minutes that might be useful for a quick job inside utilising one or other packet of cleaning wipes or twenty minutes that could be gainfully employed with a quick stint of weeding the garden. It was the sort of twenty minutes that would be spent quickly roaming around facebook and google reader. But instead of taking a wander through the hallowed halls of the internet I opened up an email and started to write.
As it turns out, you can write quite a lot in twenty minutes. And so I have continued to do this. Because as it also turns out, there are quite a lot of twenty minute slots to be found in the week if you look hard enough and want to find them. If I am tired I write less because I make typing errors along the way. If I have slept well I write more. So I grab those twenty minute time slots and instead of frittering them away, I have been using them to write to my friends in Kiribati. (Or occasionally to someone else...sorry if it wasn't to you. I do owe a few people a twenty minute email.)
And a week or two ago I even went above and beyond and used a couple of twenty minute slots to write short letters. Yes. Pen and paper.
Do you have someone whose day would be made by receiving an email or a short letter? Twenty minutes is surprisingly easy to grab at some stage in the week. Then it is a bit like an exam. When the clock says, "Your time starts now," you just have to get busy and start writing. Have a go. It will make someone smile and be such an encouragement to them.