Today is certainly a red letter day, being the first wax and seal day for a bunch of colleagues I am part of that write letters. You know. Those things before email came along.
Wax and seal day, other than co-incidentally being actor Charles Dances birthday, is merely a day to celebrate the materials of such an honorable pursuit. It’s somewhat challenging to find places locally that supply things as arcane as bottled ink, wax and writing nibs, but there are a few. Otherwise, there is the internet. A necessary evil.
I used to write letters as a kid (which wasn’t that long ago). Most of my close friends did. It was the only way to stay in touch long distance, because my parents certainly wouldn’t put out for the long distance calling and it was a more casual pace where it might otherwise be difficult to get hold of that friend. I’ve done it on and off since, but not with any real regularity.
Now, with the fact you can just pick up your cellphone, or email, or Facebook all your friends, there seems little purpose to such things. But then again, why not? Letter writing is a period of time that one can ignore the rest of the world, and focus effort thinking only of the recipient. It’s a little harder than typing. It’s personal, with all your own bad penmanship and flub-ups. It takes time and effort. When all that you receive in the letterbox these days are junk mail (almost all my bills come by email now, so my letterbox is pretty much a rubbish box), the surprise of finding an ‘actual’ letter is a great one.
In this high paced world of instant gratification, the art of sitting and committing something to paper with a degree of focus, skill and effort is surely its own reward. Whether it’s just pen and paper, or the rather full on method of traditional ink and pen and sealing wax as I take (if you’re going to do something, do it well!), it’s a worthy pursuit that’s always appreciated by the person getting them.
For me, writing letters is not only all those things, but also a chance to unwind. There’s a ritual to it, along with a good cup of tea. A downtime in an otherwise busy week that need only take as long as it needs to. Preparing pens, selecting paper. There’s something pleasing in the process.
So, in celebration of October 10th, gather yourself a writing pad, or a pen. Make the effort of spending just a bit of time communicating old school with someone you haven’t spoken with in a while and pen them a missive. Although it’s not an immediate, it’s certainly something that is timeless.