“How wonderful it is to be able to write someone a letter! To feel like conveying your thoughts to a person, to sit at your desk and pick up a pen, to put your thoughts into words like this is truly marvelous.”Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
Since 2011, Hannah Brencher and her team over at More Love Letters, a global community writing and mailing letters to people in need all over the world, have mailed hundreds of thousands of letters to over 70 countries and all 50 states. I love her organization for two reasons:
- We could all use more love in our lives – either through receiving it ourselves or reaching out to others. The state of the world, no matter what era we were fated to be born in, is always in chaos and flux. The only thing worth holding on to is love. For the planet, for each other, for ourselves.
- The act of reaching out to others by hand-writing a letter brings joy twice: to the recipient of the letter and to the letter-writer. Handwriting connects neurons in the brain that no other activity touches. It slows down the heart rate, calms the breathing, and is in general a great balm to stress.
I have been participating in several of Hannah’s letter-writing campaigns throughout the years and one of my favorite is the December 12 Days of Letter Writing. This campaign bundles letters for 12 individuals (all requested secretly by someone in their life that cares about them) across a 12-day span. From December 2-13, an individual in need of some extra encouragement in the form of handwritten notes is highlighted and people are encouraged to script a letter and send it off to the address listed.
The holidays can be a particular stressful time. The expectations we put on ourselves or accept from others for the “perfect” holiday are often impossible to meet. And if you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one – whether it was this year or 20 years ago – the holidays bring a special kind of heart ache.
What a wonderful gift to receive then a bundle of love letters to remind us that we’re not alone. That this difficulty is not forever. That life is indeed, worth living. And what better gift to give encouragement, love, and light to a fellow human being. This campaign is a wonderful reminder that underneath everything – no matter our different politics, religions, economic status, or geographic location – we are really all the same.
One of those precious people is Soo-Zin. She moved to the States from South Korea in 2002 and had planned to stay here for just five years. From the campaign highlight:
“She moved to the United States from South Korea in 2002 with the intent of staying for only five years–so that my father could get his college degree. Five years, ten years, and even fifteen years have gone by, and we are still living in the United States.
Living in a foreign country with no relatives and raising three children (with little help from her husband) has taken a toll on her. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized all the late nights she has spent crying from stress and depression. Unable to work in the United States and facing a language barrier, Soo-Zin laments constantly about how she feels like a failure and sees no purpose in life. My mother is a smart woman and the best mother, but over the past few months, she has been struggling with generalized anxiety disorder along with her severe depression. She has been attempting to cope with this illness on her own, and although she is hurting on the inside, she puts up a strong front for children. I want her to realize that she is a strong woman, and also that many people care about her wellbeing.”
When I read Soo-Zin’s story, I immediately thought of my father. Although his story is different in how he came to the United States from a war-devastated Poland, that experience of living in a foreign country without any close relatives was something he intimately understood. I can no longer write to my father and the regrets and grief I have can now be re-channeled in reaching out to someone else who is living far from her homeland and everything familiar and dear.
Today is the last day of the campaign, but it is never too late to write a letter to someone who needs a little love. It could be a friend. A family member. An acquaintance. Or you could join Hannah and the rest of us who participate in her More Love Letters campaign.
Whomever you write to, may your holiday season be bright and filled with the love of others.
Image copyright 2019 MAG
A member of the Water Street Writers, Mikaela D’Eigh is a writer, poet, and lover of Scotch. She lives out in the country with two Egyptian gods disguised as cats, a herd of cows, and a flock of wild turkeys. Check her out at La Belle Dame Merci or on Medium, Facebook, or Instagram for more articles, poetry, and shenanigans.