I have had a long time love for letter writing. I’ve been lucky enough to have written and received many letters despite the fact that many people reply to my interest in letter writing by informing me that the art of letter writing is dead.
Letter writing is not dead, merely endangered. It reminds of this story I heard about the sighting of a giant woodpecker that was thought to be extinct. It’s the kind of story I would love to wildly exaggerate (It has a wingspan of six feet!). Someday I’ll have to tell you about a spider I once saw in Florida that was hunting a frog. The point is, the woodpecker was extinct and now it isn’t. And now you are reading a letter so it is also not dead.
Letters, just being an extension of ourselves, can remain as long as we have writing implements, something to write on and the will to write them.
Of course, writing letters that are never reciprocated is the danger of a using an endangered communication method. But the creation of the letter does a lot for my own thought processes which I don’t seem to find elsewhere. More importantly, the beauty in writing letters, for me, is very much like that of film photography. There is no instant gratification, there may very well be no gratification, and I, not knowing whether my letter was lost or you chose not to answer it, can continue on with my faith in letter writing intact.
I wish I could tell you, beloved Mary, what your letters mean to me. They create a soul in my soul. I read them as messages from life. Somehow they always come when I need them most, and they always bring that element which makes us desire more days and more nights and more life. Whenever my heart is bare and quivering, I feel the terrible need of someone to tell me that there is a tomorrow for all bare and quivering hearts and you always do it, Mary.
Letter from Kahlil Gibran to Mary Haskell dated Sunday, February 8, 1914. Beloved Prophet: The love letters of Kahlil Gibran and Mark Haskell
I was introduced to Kahlil Gibran in my search for information about people who wrote letters. I’d been tipped off to this idea by a reference to George Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Patrick Campbell in my favorite (or maybe just only) letter-writing movie, You’ve Got Mail. I quickly fell in love with the letters between Gibran and Haskell in Beloved Prophet and in an act of great restraint will not continue on to share my favorite dozen letters from the book in this post (but they are always available upon request).
No one knew that the two of them were as close as they were or that as many letters passed between them until after Gibran’s death, despite the fact that they wrote faithfully for over 20 years. Many people do not know I have a story like that of my own, having written over a thousand emails with a very special pen pal for the better part of five years.
It feels greedy but I would love to experience that again. Until then, I will write to you, dear void.
Some excerpts of this post were taken from a letter I wrote over 5 years ago and never sent.
Want to be my pen pal? Contact me here.