Writing Letters to Strangers
A curious practice for you and others
Today I left a letter in a park for a stranger to find.
It was typed on a single sheet of paper with a typewriter. It was spritzed with one of my favourite perfumes and tucked in an envelope, read me inscribed on the front.
Within, I poured out my heart.
I don’t know where it will go, who will find it. If it will simply sit there until the rain comes and turns it to mush and bleeding ink.
Not knowing is the reason I do it.
It is easier than ever before to connect with people in this world. Our ability to communicate and share information is truly mind-boggling. But in the days of the virus, we are also the most disconnected because we are deprived of the most essential connection of all. Personal, physical, tactile.
The idea to write my letter came to me in the evening when I just wanted to use my typewriter. That machine is like therapy. There’s nothing quite like it.
And I thought about my old penpals from my childhood. They were sisters who lived in the USA and I still have some of their letters and the origami and photos they used to send me. I never met them in person, but I will always have those little slices of them with me.
And I decided I wanted to write to a stranger. Give them a little slice of me.
You would not believe the freedom I experienced, sitting there with my typewriter on my lap.
It felt like making a new friend, at that moment when you finally see the shell crack and catch a glimpse of the human soul within. And you discover that they are a kindred spirit.
Each sentence was a little miracle. I found myself handling my letter with such care, like a precious parcel to be sent off to a secret destination.
I wrote with such candour, earnestly confessing fears and hopes and dreams. Asking questions I will never hear the answers to. Offering kindness, promises of good things to come because it doesn’t matter who finds my letter — everyone deserves kind words.
I hope my letter finds its way to somebody who might find its content as enriching to read as it was for me to write. I hope they smile at the words and wonder and maybe decide to find pen and paper and write their own letter.
The smallest act of selflessness becomes a thread in the web of connections that keeps this world turning.
Writing someone a letter can make their day. Their week, their month. Your words can be just the words that they needed to hear to change their lives. You really never know.
If you want to channel letter writing into a community project with a mission, check out these organisations.
Letters to Strangers is an initiative that challenges people to address their handwritten words of kindness and encouragement to someone they don’t know. These letters are collected and delivered to those who really need them. Their mission is to destigmatize mental illness and help provide suffering youth with access to treatment that is personal and affordable.
More Love Letters releases monthly letter requests for you to respond to, requests from the loved ones of people who most need to be doused in kind words at this time. A new batch of requests have just rolled in with the turn of the month so now is the perfect time to get scribbling!
This story was originally published on Medium. You can find it here.