The Letter Box

Photo: screenshot from "Forrest Gump"

By Mike Johnson

Everything I own prior to 1977 survived a brutal culling. Broke & starving, only three cardboard boxes fit on the plane to that job in Florida. One of those boxes was filled with handwritten letters.

This box was so valued because letters are intimate. Revealing. Feelings captured in ink. Time capsules.

I still have that letter box.

Pre-Margie, my deepest loves were women who wrote letters. Old pals, pen-pals, work pals, their notes continued even when postage wasn’t needed. These gals had me pegged -- the written word went straight to my heart. My letters did the same for them.

No part of my life is better documented than age 16-21. But it’s all one-way. I have their letters but no copies of what I wrote back. Still, they reveal love in all its raw, exhilarating, hopeful, deeply-layered richness. Having one person love you is grand. Multiples spread over six years is an embarrassment of emotional riches.

It’s a cruel travesty that we can’t fully appreciate the rare & priceless & fragile gift of love when we’re young. I cringe from today’s perspective, knowing each of those open hearts received less from me than they hoped. I broke hearts and some broke mine. The melancholy of love & pain inhabiting the same memory space transcends words.

Margie wrote letters too. Enthralling letters. Those and a long list of other attributes encouraged our marriage. We’ve been off the singles market 44 years. We still trade notes.

My letter box also holds ancient friend letters. Grandma letters. Father letters. These are ‘I Care” letters. These too are melancholy because I can’t recall how I acknowledged their exhibition of care.

Life moves on. Technology advances. But the world becomes a lesser place with the loss of handwritten letters. Email rarely touches the heart like ink & stationary & sweeping cursive.

We live in a world with too many words and too few personal letters.

This loss is an opportunity for the aware.

In both business and life.

If you're going to write, why not make it worthy of someone's letter box?


More on this topic: "Writing is a Super Power"

"The Lost Wallet Stuffed With Cash"


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