Monday, March 23, 2009

Letters to Myself

“Sir, more than kisses, letters mingle souls; for, thus friends absent speak.” ~John Donne

When I first moved to the States - and hardly knew anyone - I lived to see the mailman’s truck pull up, everyday. I waited by the window with the same eagerness of a child on Christmas Eve, and through the daily deliveries of a skinny Santa dressed in blue I felt a little less alone. Although I was excited at the prospect of starting a new life away from home, I was only nineteen, and I missed my friends and family - through letters, their love and support hugged me like a pair of old familiar arms.

As time went by, the phone calls continued daily, but the letters soon became a thing of the past. I slowly lost touch with several friends, and as phone rates became more affordable, the conversations with my family gradually shifted to a spoken exchange rather than a written one. I still have all the letters, and read them again from time to time.

Yesterday, as I was telling a friend how happy I am about the upcoming publication of my books, she suggested I hang on to some of that happiness. She went on to explain that since she was a little girl, she always wrote notes to her future self, and then saved them for a later time when she would need to hear comforting words.

If she was very happy, she told me, she would write a note in which she shared her good news, and encouraged herself to relive the exhilaration of that happy moment. If, later on, she read the note at a time when she felt a bit low on herself, she could reconnect to what had happened in the past and feel better.

Similarly, if she was very angry or sad, she would write her future self a letter about what upset her. Reading it later, after the storm had passed, showed her that all things are temporary, and are rarely as bad as we think they are while we are going through them.

I found her suggestion totally fascinating. I have written letters to others I wanted to share feelings with before, but I’ve never written anything to myself. How fun would it be now, if I could read letters written during the time when I struggled to adjust to a new way of life, or I got frustrated because of the challenges of speaking a new language? And what about those moments when I felt I could just scream out of sheer happiness, such as when I found out I was going to be a mom, or when my husband proposed?

I wish I could read those letters now. It would certainly be fun to compare my life today to something written so long ago, and it would certainly be encouraging to see that obstacles which appeared at the time as solid bricks on my path were nothing more than removable Legos.

It’s obviously too late to recapture those moments from long ago and put them down on paper right now, but it is definitely possible to begin doing so with my life’s latest happenings. In fact, I think I will start today.

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