I’ve never written a love letter for a significant other. I didn’t want to be made fun of by my high school friends and teachers if word got out that I did. However, I received a few in college. They were placed in my backpack or slid underneath my door. I enjoyed opening them and taking a mental snapshot of the size of the letter. I’m glad I didn’t get them on Valentine’s Day because it would have not been a surprise.
I believe that when men and women receive a love letter it is the only situation in which they make an effort to read better than they usually do. When they read a love letter, they read for all they are worth. They read every word more than once; they read between the lines and margins; they read the whole in terms of their parts, and each part in terms of the whole. They are sensitive to context and ambiguity and feel the weight of sentences. They may even take the punctuation seriously.
When I felt loneliness after graduating college, I was inspired to utilize the power of a love letter. Not inspired by something wonderful that took away my loneliness; but inspired by feeling the loneliness and suffering of others deep in my own heart.
During a daily run, I noticed an old woman sitting outside a cafe. She was staring down at the floor and had trouble reading without her glasses. I didn’t need her life story to feel a connection to her. I was connected through an unspoken sense of uncertainty and helplessness.
Taking out my pocket notebook, I found myself writing this woman a letter. Completely engrossed in the task, five minutes had passed before I looked up to see that the woman had disappeared. I found my calling.
For the next few weeks, I left written love letters to strangers to places I visited frequently. Strangers found them under napkins, in between pages of books, and next to laptops. This was a thrilling endeavor to make my presence felt.
These actions didn’t cure my loneliness, but I found a way to not focus on my sadness, fears, and doubts. I wanted to connect with people. I didn’t need to know them or their story to love them.
I’ve probably written close to 400 letters in the past year. I don’t need to know the impact I’ve had on someone else since I trust my intentions. The perfect thing about writing my letters was I didn’t need to be in a positive mood to be thoughtful. It didn’t matter if I was equipped to write them. Some days I did it for them and other days for myself.
A love letter represents a beautiful connection to someone else and outside of oneself. Most of the time my thoughts are confusing and negative. So when I took the time to write them it wasn’t about me anymore, but to give someone else a better day.
Think about the effort someone makes when they read a love letter. Think about how effective they are in making a connection. Think about how many times you could do it in a day.
Like I said, I’ve never written a love letter for a significant other. But I know why people love to read them.