Pen To Paper: A lost art

Can it be that the common bond of all mankind has, seemingly overnight, become the keyboard? Cold and feeling less, this universal keyboard has replaced the flow of ink on smooth, cool paper. Creatively forming letters and words to reach out to another human being has become old-fashioned and outdated.

Cast aside are letters filled with now useless word forms, left to fade on yellowing, brittle paper. Beautiful messages of love and friendship were once written by hand with cursive writing learned in our earliest years. Rarely forgotten is the teacher who opened us up to the ability to put elementary letters of ABC into an art form of cursive that would eventually be a form of identification. Like a snowflake or fingerprint, our cursive handwriting is nearly impossible to recreate with 100% mastery. One is, or was, recognized by their handwriting.

I can tell my growth as a student from elementary school through into college by my handwriting. I can tell by the certain slant of the letters in my words what mood I was in. Somedays the flow of ink onto the paper was easier than others. The uniqueness of the perfect pen, in the best color could make or break a writing assignment for me. I love a very fine point pen or pencil. Others prefer ballpoint pens.

Writing in a journal or diary is still the closest form of communication to sharing with another person with actual words and facial expressions. Cursive writing is a form of therapy often recommended from therapist to client to aid in releasing painful emotions held within for years that grief and loss ignite to points of dangerous decisions of living or not. Cursive is not to be taken or lost lightly.

A letter written to another in cursive shows caring and dedication. From one person to another an actual part of that person is in that flow of words on that paper chosen just for them. Gone are the days that time is dedicated to thoughtfully handwrite to another, our thoughts of the day.

When clicking on a keyboard, thoughtful is replaced by impulsive. A keyboard is the land of cynical, dull, meaningless dribble. With less mind involvement, messages are sent with precarious double or triple meaning. Rapid-fire responses and content feed the impulsive flow of the keyboard addicted to places that pen to paper would rarely if ever go. Words jettison out to the world to stand as a forever document of a few emotion fueled seconds of response. These text messages will remain, never fade – rarely ever lost.

I read my parent’s love letters to one another from the early 1950’s when they were parted for a summer after their high school graduation. They loved each other, madly hand writing letters for their eyes-only. These beautiful pieces of their unique correspondence during the time of their early love show the impact that this separation on them. Not a moment, not an hour or day went by that each of them didn’t feel that separation and on the yellowed pages of those letters, it shows.

When we five siblings sifted through our parent’s belongings after our mom’s passing, these letters were found and kept in a plastic bag for further review. Because they were handwritten letters tuck inside envelopes with carefully handwritten names and addresses, it was automatic that amidst the mountain of things amassed in the lifetime of a 54-year marriage, their love letters would survive. Now I realize this quest of mine to make cursive important again. I wanted my parents correspondence. Some siblings wanted others things, some wanted nothing.

I connect the 1952 black and white high school graduation photo of my parents’ budding love that would eventually be trashed and trodden upon by financial woes and horrific and overwhelming stress of having three babies in fifteen months. Except for our youngest sister, who was born seven years later, we four siblings were witness to the near ruin of all of us.

Captured in photos, though, and on fragile, faded paper is the proof that at one time these two people could barely live without each other. The cursive flow from their pens to random pieces of paper is what I will keep and hold dear until the end of my life. I may even be buried with them.

I may, though, send these letters down through the generations to come in hopes that cursive will remain with the respect it is due. That the gift of the phrase, ‘To Love And Be Loved Is The Greatest Joy On Earth,’ can only truly impact the heart from the giver of it in the most individual expression possible ~ in cursive.

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© 2016 by Debra Whittam. All Rights Reserved