Last Christmas, I put myself up for a challenge to write out and custom-make all the Christmas greeting cards I’d be sending out. I had a good idea on what to do: for every person I would be sending out a card to, I would draw, using graphite, on the card and handwrite a message on the back and/or handwrite a letter along with it.
What I learned from the experience — other than the letters occupied wider space and have become more ornate since I stopped writing in my journal — is that not only is it rewarding (oh, the joys of handwriting a long essay!) but it is more personal, genuine, and full of soul. But more importantly, it gave me the time to think.
With a computer and a keyboard, and like the millions worldwide, I have become quite adept at typing fast. I won’t go into the whole identity dissociation with the fonts — that’s another topic; however, it gave me the chance to slow down my thoughts and communicate them more effectively.
In typing, I can type just as I would think out loud; indeed, some of my posts here or in my “digital journal” have been just that: an ad verbatim written version of my thoughts, unadulterated and often nonsensical. It makes sense then that, when writing an essay in college, I have been told to always “sleep on it” and re-read the text at a later time.
While writing, however, my hand cannot keep up with my thoughts so my only option is to slow my thoughts down. By the time I finish writing the current sentence, my brain has already given the next four or five sentences another thought and has reworked them; in fact, often by the time I am done writing a single thought, I no longer feel the need to write the other ones as my brain has found no relevancy to the current subject or has resolved the conflict by the time I finished the manual work.
The digital age has created a generation of professional ranters — and I am one of the biggest, to be honest with myself — and I keep wondering how different and more insightful would we be had we given ourselves the chance to count to ten before writing something. Very often, this works wonders. I have had the urge to write something — be it a thought or a rant — and, instead of doing so, I have given myself a couple or so minutes to think it through before I post anything online. In particular, if I was on twitter I would write a lengthy tweet which, by the time I manage to paraphrase into 140 characters, ends up being scrapped because my brain has had the time to process the logic and the emotions, not just the latter.
And probably that’s the greatest learning from writing, and certainly from almost everything “old school”: patience. The patience to give ourselves and the people around us a second chance. The patience to ponder how things came to be and how the universe works. To enjoy a slow conversation that does not have to cover a hundred different subjects. The patience to spell out “fourteen” instead of writing the digits in a sentence. The patience to craft someone a gift instead of purchasing a mass-produced, soulless item. The patience to add a personal touch to our writing, our loved ones, our work, our hobbies, and whatever we produce, be it physical or an act of kindness or expression of the self.