The lost art of writing letters

In the last days, several situations have led me to think about that lost art of writing letters to friends, penfriends or even love letters. It’s easy to understand why we’ve stopped writing letters: we can simply pick up our mobile phone and call the person, or write an email, or even buy a cheap plane ticket and go visit that friend. But what if, with the loss of this ancient art and tradition of writing letters, we’re also losing a bit of our humanity?
A letter doesn’t just give us the opportunity to tell someone how we are, a letter is a real moment to connect with ourselves and with each other. It is a moment of connection. It is a moment of love. I give myself to you. I have put everything else on hold, to think about what I want to say to you. One does not write a letter like one sends a message on a mobile phone. A letter entails work and, more importantly, the letter lasts over time, it bears witness to our friendship or our love.

I have a tin full of letters that I have received throughout my life, letters that my friends, both close and penfriends, have written to me. I have letters from my sister that show me all the countries I’ve lived in and where and how she was during each of my absences. I have the letters from that childhood love that stays with us forever, tied up with a leather string. I still write letters today and, despite all the apps that exist for communicating, there’s no substitute for finding a letter in the letterbox, seeing the handwriting of the person you love, laughing and crying at what they were feeling when they wrote that letter.

For me, writing a letter is stealing time from a time that has become a product. Writing, putting ink to paper, is my sign of indignation, my banner of revolt against this dehumanising world. While I write, nothing else exists, just me, my words and the other person in my heart. If I could give you a recipe for recovering a little of our humanity every day, I would say: write, write letters, write in your diary, let yourself be touched by emotion and feeling, do not be afraid to connect with the other. Give yourself. Give yourself.

And because I’m in my diary, I’m sharing below with you a little poem I wrote about love letters recently.


What is a love letter?
In this love letter, my love, I give you all my feelings
Here I expose myself
Here I give myself to you
Receive this letter as a part of my heart
Here I leave you a piece of me.
In the ink that runs down the page,
      Are hidden tears, emotions, moments of pain,
      And so many others of sharing, excitement and joy
May these words let you know who I am,
      And what feelings my heart harbours
May this letter one day serve as a reminder of who we were,
      Or as a comfort if one day we lose our way.
I’ve written several drafts, experimented with different pens and types of paper,
All because you are the recipient of this letter.
You, and only you, lift me up
You, and only you, make me stronger
You, and only you, make me believe that everything I dream of can be achieved
You, and you alone, I love.
Receive these words as a testimony of my love,
      Of my imperfection,
      Of my attempts to be and do better
Receive these words as a promise that to you, and you only,
      I give my heart
Receive, my love, this love letter of mine.