While writing, the very toil gives pleasure and itself is lessened, and the growing work glows with the writer’s heart.
I was doing some spring cleaning - which is odd because as I write this, it is quietly snowing outside my window. The studio was a mess; after a busy week of sketching our upcoming collection of Islamic holiday cards, I found a box tucked away in a corner long ago. I opened it to be greeted by a pile of carefully saved letters and cards from friends and family. Every time I open this box, I feel a familiar delight.
As I sifted through the cards, I suddenly remembered that April is ‘National Card and Letter Writing Month’. I am not sure why the month of April is bestowed with this great responsibility; maybe it has to do with the meaning of the word ‘April’. While the word’s derivation seems to be uncertain, a common theory is that ‘April’ is rooted in the Latin ‘aprilis’ which is derived from ‘aperire’, meaning to open - which might be a reference to the opening or blossoming of flowers and trees during spring.
What is hand writing a note, if not the opening of the heart? When one pens a note, one opens their heart to begin writing. When one receives a note, one must open it to begin reading. The symbolism of the word April is beautifully applicable to both the changing seasons and the act of writing and receiving notes. There is an intrinsic relationship between the writing, the message and the heart that is realized when one begins to scribe the first few letters of a message. The heart beats a little faster, one pauses and focuses to ensure no mistake is made and that there is clarity in the message, one attempts to write in one’s best handwriting – it inspires the writer to put forth their best self - in mind, body and spirit.
And what about the receiver – how great is the delight that is felt when one finds a note in that pile of junk mail? As you reach for that letter opener, each of your senses awakens and your mind dives deep into the reservoir of memories to draw the best of moments with that person, or sometimes the saddest. It is amazing to think about how a distant object, a two-dimensional piece of pressed tree pulp with some scribbles, brings you immediately closer to the person who sent it to you. I cannot decide which is a more satisfying experience: licking the envelope closed on a note you just wrote to a dear friend, or sitting down on the couch to open a card sent to you filled with stories and wishes.
There is also an art to the handwritten note. The choice of paper, the colour of the ink, the flourishes in one’s script, and yes, emoticons, all create a visual aesthetic that cannot be duplicated in the digital world. Think about it like this: no two notes ever written, from the time of tablets and papyrus to modern day, are the same. Every note, with its uneven lines, fading ink, and scribbles in the corner is an invaluable, and cherished work of art.
When I think about why we started The Friday Collective, I think about that box of letters, postcards, birthday cards, photos with a quickly scribbled note on the back, and even a few napkins with funny drawings. The whirlwind of emotions I experience every time I rifle through that box is something I want to continue experiencing – emotions that have been experienced by all who have participated in this tradition for over 5,000 years.
This month, we commit to writing at least 5 handwritten notes to friends and family that we have not reached out to in many years. Will you join us and write 5 letters to your loved ones? We would love to hear from you! Follow us and share your handwritten stories with us with the #TFCstories.