“For it is a pleasure, too, to remember.”
We just hosted a goodly portion of the Middlebury cycling team — it was great fun to have Alex home, even just for a weekend, and to meet some of the friends he spends time with. What a wonderful group!
And what a pleasure, too, it was to receive a letter with a team photo and a note signed by all of Alex’s friends thanking us for making everyone feel at home. It reminded me how rare it is to receive a handwritten note these days — and how wonderful it is to get a glimpse of someone’s generosity of spirit when they send something they’ve written.
And it also reminded me of a conversation I had not long ago with someone who interviewed me over the phone about my book, Birthing the Elephant. In the three years since he’d been doing his radio show, he told me that he had interviewed hundreds of people. And only one — just one person — had taken the time to write him a thank-you note. Make that two. After our interview, I sent him a thank you card with a cheerful teacup print and a teabag inserted inside it. It was the same kind of card I sent to everyone who generously shared their time and ideas with me for Birthing the Elephant.
In her entertaining book, At Large and At Small, Anne Fadiman includes an essay called quite simply, “Mail.” In it she waxes on wittily about the lost art of letter writing and the enormous difference between writing and receiving letters and writing and receiving emails. She also offers a tantalizing glimpse into the history of correspondence. In central London in the late 1600s, for example, postage was a penny and one might receive mail ten or twelve times a day.
All this focus on letters prompted me to take a peek into a blue wooden basket in my office filled with cards languishing for lack of writing, hoping to be sent. There are funny cards, flower cards, clever cards. What am I waiting for? How about you?