Educating myself this year by way of podcasts has confirmed a few ideals that were once vague notions. How ironic amid a pandemic to hear Jungian analyst Dr. James Hollis say, “Pitty the poor ego that says, I want what I want when I want it.”
Our egos have had much to learn. Current times bring frequent demands of delayed gratification, but there has always been with us an excellent practice for deferred fulfillment and that would be the art of letter writing.
Dr. Hollis tells the story about Freud who while living in Vienna got a letter from his daughter in London. He said to a colleague: “Imagine the modern world. I get this letter in only 3 days. But if it were not the modern world, I could walk in the other room and talk to her.” Sigh.
Not living in the same state with my children and their people for many years, I have become proficient in the glorious gamut of communication. Yes, I do want what I want when I want it and do so by way of phone calls, emails, texts, and instagram posts, but it’s the ceremonial task of laying down words on a card or letter that has the potential to entwine souls.
The two way exchange makes the mailbox the richest kind of post. Personalities can be proffered by the hand and heart with fun paper and stamps. Perspectives can be absorbed across the physical distance by clarification through reading and rereading.
I have two bundles of artful cards and letters that indicate this is so. They rest side by side at attention ever since my parents’ departures, one tied in blue and the other in coral. They cry out with reminders about the investments and returns during lifetimes.
Also rattling around our collective is a framed collage of postcards sent to my grandfather by his half brothers and sisters when he was a wee product of a second marriage. This was the singular inspiration that launched a habit of sending postcards to my grandchildren beginning with Elodie.
Parental guidance on the subject was assured. The launch was a go with my first box of (scented) stationary purchased at Roses’ Department Store for the purpose of birthday thank yous with one caveat: one should never put down in writing that which one never wants to be revealed to the world.
The concept of mailing things through the post office seems at once purposeful and romantic. The dawn expressed as much. It seems that the colonists were anxious to contact their folks back in England so the General Court of Massachusetts proclaimed Richard Fairbanks’ tavern as the official mail drop for overseas. We can only imagine what loose tongues prevailed in those epistles.
As a lifetime fan of the USPS and its workforce, I cannot help but imagine the update that the current Postmaster General Louis DeJoy would provide to the original bloke Ben Franklin (who else?) “Well, Sir, since the so called flying machines (stagecoaches), we have mastered delivery by way of rail, cars, airplanes, trucks, guided missiles, motorcycles, not the least of which included mules and dogs of those you are thankfully familiar; we became an independent agency in 1971 only to loose 2.2 billion in a recent quarter of 2020 because of the volume of mail, Sir. The letters rather than parcels fell faster than expected during a worldwide pandemic, Mr. Franklin, Sir.”
Do you remember the goal of having a pen pal? My Father set this up for us with an international donation program where our family was matched with an impoverished child from another country. To this day, her name – Ranich Rampatama – haunts my idea of gazetteer as we received beautiful letters of gratitude and a photograph from her which begged the question – who is impoverished?
Over a year ago across generations Reverend Joe Evans and I agreed to maintain a a pen pal book club. This very week I will write out my response to the last chapter. With anticipation we have taken our time revealing revelations which come more honestly on paper.
Even Big Brother still likes to collect information the old fashion way. This month I was randomly chosen to participate in the Household Diary Study. News to you? Me too though I discovered that it is a national survey which has been fielded continuously since 1987 by the U.S. Postal Service.
After receiving a packet of daily booklets I was to register each piece of ingoing and outgoing household mail which resulted in details about demographics, lifestyle, attitudes toward mail and advertising, bill payment behavior and use of the internet. Each participant is paid in stamps for their trouble which is considerable in my case as I never excelled in clerical tedium.
Though I am not by any stretch what they call a helper, I have the dominant intent of looking for what I am wanting to see and that is a world where people connect in thoughtful ways. I attempt to do my part in favor of activities that keep life elevated.
A local character once advised me that “our brains are an extension of our forefathers,” which I can imagine that in some departments aren’t far away from a pint in Fairbanks’ pub. Still I believe that ultimately giving and receiving are the same dynamic and no better display is literally documented than the page that begins with Dear….
Roben Mounger (Ms Cook)