Monday, April 16, 2012

Sometimes We Just Need to Write

Thank you cards are underrated.

It's funny, my thoughts have turned to potential first lines for the last seven days. I took such a long break from my blog, it seemed almost futile to jump back into the page and wrap my ideas inside letters. My husband even asked when I planned to start writing again.

"I don't know. Maybe tomorrow," I kept telling him. I wasn't sure where to begin.

But then, I walked to mailbox and I found a letter. And for the second time in seven days, my eyes grew misty.

My life has not been short on blogging muses. Over the last few weeks, J and I met our two nieces and our nephew for the first time, I survived my first attempt at skiing in Colorado, we snowshoed in Rocky Mountain National Park, our condo is in contract, we found our new home, I got into a car accident, I spilled coffee on my laptop, I started working out with a personal trainer, and I got rescued by a ranger in a local Columbus park.

There are a lot of stories in there. Stories that have filled me with with joy, wonder, fear and hope. Moments that challenged me, or changed me. Experiences that have made me appreciate some aspect of life. And yet, with each passing day, all of them seemed to slip through the hourglass before I could punch them into existence. At a certain point, I wasn't sure where to start, and so I just let them all go.

Wishing for the push to find my voice again, I found it today, freed by a thank you note painted with dainty, red flowers, and thin, wandering branches. At eight o'clock this morning, I reached into my mailbox expecting to find flyers or notifications. Instead, I found myself thumbing the ridges of textured paper, pulling open a card containing the words of a former student who decided to thank me for the role I played in her life two years ago.

My eyes misted before I made it half-way down the page. I instantly thought of my mother.

My mother touted thank you cards throughout my childhood, and my reaction today illustrates why. As a child, the moment my last friend wandered beneath the threshold and all that remained of my party was chocolate cake and colored balloons, my mom handed me a stack of cards and instructed me to write. I'd sit, begrudgingly--knowing better than to argue--and press the tip of the pen to the page in an effort to express my gratitude.

"You'll thank me one day," my mom always told me.

I may never know the magnitude of any of my letters, but I certainly understand the magnitude of the letters I've received, the letters scribed by the hands of people who--on account of me--poured their heart into cool, wet ink. Humbled by the weight of something so simple in principle, but so enormous in effect, I am still paralyzed each time I hold a thoughtful, hand-written note in my hand.

And so it was today, when I walked to my mailbox to find A's letter. In this fast-paced world, we rarely thank each other. We text, we facebook, we email and sometimes we call, but very rarely do we plop down behind a desk, prop a pen into the crook of our fingers, and write a note to someone else. Very rarely are our mailboxes stuffed with anything other than political propaganda, sales brochures and bills.

But when they are, it is magical.

And lucky me got two doses of magic in the last seven days. Last Thursday, S told me he just found out that he got (nearly) a full ride scholarship and he thanked me for helping him with his essays. Today, A thanked me for being in her life. Two different students, writing for two different reasons. Both notes: fully unexpected and far too kind. Both notes: reminded me that I matter. That each day we all have the chance to matter. To reach out, to speak, to say hello, to say thank you, to say let me help you out, to ask how we make someone else's life just a little bit better.

Sometimes what we do doesn't have to be very big. Sometimes, we just need to write.

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