Monday, August 21, 2006
The Letter Project
Today I received magic in my mailbox. Along with the bill from the cable company and the postcard letting me know I could get an amazing deal on carpeting, there was a parchment-colored envelope with my name on it. My name was hand written. So was the return address. I didn't recognize it.
I carried the envelope into my living room, slightly puzzled. It was from California. I don't know anyone from California that would have my home address. I turned the thick envelope over in my hands a few times. Then I remembered The Letter Project.
Recently, while online, I stumbled upon a man who had a small advertisement about a personal quest, called The Letter Project. In this ad, Rick, from California, offered to send a handwritten letter to anyone who asked. Just send him your home address and he'd send you an authentic, old fashioned snail mail letter written by himself. For the purpose of resurrecting an almost lost art. For the purpose of sharing and caring in a less-hurried way. For the purpose of remembering what anticipation felt like. Because I'm fond of lost arts and letters, I sent Rick my address.
In return for less than 3 minutes of my time to sign up with Rick, I received a 5 1/2 page, handwritten correspondence in blue ink. The made-to-look-like-parchment stationary he used matched the envelope. He dated the letter and began with "Dear Graciel". Let me tell you, he had me at "Dear Graciel".
This stranger named Rick wrote to me about being in my home-state of New York and how breathtaking he found it to be. He told me about living in a community that is carved out of the desert and sports few trees. He told me about the fragrant sage blossoms that are about to bloom. He told me about being the elected shoulder to cry on for all his friends. He told me about the dinner of smoked turkey and rice he made. About going to the bookstore and losing his keys accidentally in the garbage can out front. About what he was currently reading. About his job as a writer for others and how he needs to return to publishing his own work.
Rick also asked about me. He asked what my dreams are. He asked what I was doing to realize them. He asked what I lay awake at night wishing for. Rick included a return envelope with a stamp already on it. He invited me to send him a letter in return or pass on the goodwill and send a letter to someone else.
I will never again underestimate the power of the written word. Especially the handwritten word. Rick's effort and caring and selflessness gave palpable energy to the ream of staionary he sent. I literally felt the vibrational energy of the pages through my hands. That's how powerful the compassion of a stranger can be.
Because of Rick's energy and daring and genuine desire to care and share, he is no longer a stranger. He is instantly my friend. He is instantly my new hero. If his little ad hadn't mentioned he was already married, I would instantly pack my bags to smell sage blossoms in the desert.