This year I resolve to sit in public and openly write with my hand. Sitting alone in a coffee shop, a library, or a restaurant, I pledge to, at least occasionally, not get out my phone immediately, but instead to open my backpack and take out a folder. In it are some blank greeting cards, envelopes, and stamps.
I will sit and write, by hand, in public. I hope people notice.
I love my phone as much as the next person. I marvel at it. I feel naked without it. But using our whole hand, and not just the tips of our fingers, to form letters with ink on paper, delivers forms of happiness both to the writer and reader, that we should not lose touch with. Ironically, our cell phones can magnify the happiness of this traditional pursuit.
Handmade vs. Tapmade
As we shape letters, drawing them in their printed style, which is what I do, or stringing them together like pearls, as cursive writing does, we create something personal. Our handiwork reveals something of ourselves quite different from the uniform, stylized text that materializes when we tap, tap, tap on impervious glass screens.
It shouldn’t be just at the holidays when we create and send handwritten cards. Their power to deliver happiness is distinct, increasingly rare, and universally appreciated. What’s more, papers can last as long as furniture, as our libraries can attest, whereas our digital files, well, who knows?
Before you seal your envelope, look around for something thin and light that you can slip inside as a stowaway: a cocktail napkin, a calling card, a leaf. You’ll be sending another reminder of what physical mail can do that (so far, at least) our phones cannot.
Also before you seal that envelope, make some photo art. Arrange a composition, a still life, showing the open card with its message, the envelope showing the addressee and the stamp, the pen you’ve used. The photo serves both as a record, today’s carbon copy, and as a way to magnify the happiness, when you send the photo to another friend or loved one.
Tradition + New = Tomorrow
Tomorrow is never completely new, but always a blend of what has come before with what has come recently. Today, the heritage technology of writing by hand and our new digital technologies, give us the best of old and new. We’ve entered another golden age of writing by hand, if we will but grasp it.
Join me in public displays of writing this year. You, too, can spread the word.
—Steve Leveen, Co-Founder