Before mobile phones and internet, a traveller would grieve the absence of their loved one through letters written on real paper with a real pen with blood or ink, whatever they could find, with chicken feather or stick, pen or quill a letter would be made and sent. Nobody knew if the letter arrived at its destination, but the purpose of the letter was more than pen and paper arriving somewhere.
The influence of a love letter extends beyond the receiver. It goes to the relief of the pain of separation, the fear of the future, the uncertainties of life. We, war or no war, may never see the love of our life ever again and so, what we communicate with them, may be the last memory they have of us and what should that be?
I am a father of three, grandfather of two. I’ve communicated with all three by remote contact since they were babies, a divorce and acrimonious ex-wife, determined this to be so, and I, a no victim father, chose to accept the separation to save the children from the fight that may fruitlessly involve them to no real advantage. It was a brave thing I chose, to watch them sail off into the sunset and face my pain of separation, alone.
It was then that I grew as a man. I had forgotten a precious gift I was given until this event made me realise that I had something to teach, something I had taken totally for granted, something that came to me so naturally I had never understood its power. Until this event, I had lost gratitude for my gift, and had only eyes and ears for what we call “reality” – I had lost valuation for the sense of respect for those things beyond it.
I knew non local reality very well. I had, at the age of 3, watched my mother die in my arms smothered in the realism of her own blood, smashed by the rear wheels of the truck we were playing in, but for me, she never died. In my reality we continued to speak often and I never, not once, missed her presence, I still feel her presence, so she literally taught me the gift of “knowing.”
As such, I didn’t need to write letters from my heart, I lived from it. As a five year old I would sit with busty aboriginal women who would tell me stories so slowly, so, real that I would travel into the story and be lost. At school I would day dream and be punished for it, for drifting into other realities when the teacher and class was heartless.
I grew up with the virtual world of super heroes and picture books that took me into fantasy land, a land that I called reality. So, for me, it has been a struggle to engage with the needy reality of separation, rather than the beautiful truth of non local reality.
This all said, the needy reality of separation is a frightening one. Whether we are in the trenches of war with no option other than to share the musings of our heart just in case they are our last memory, or to reassure a loved one that we are immeasurably in love and faithful in that love, or whether we are reminding our children that we are still taking care of them from afar, love letters are now easier than ever.
When these notes were written from the trenches of war, there was pain of separation and sadness relieved by writing, even fear of death somehow evaporated through a good love letter. Most love letters are written to parents and partners and friends, but in truth, a love letter to another is a love letter to ourselves. We love ourselves enough, to write from our heart to another heart which in truth, is purely a mirror. When we open our heart in writing to another, we open our heart truly to ourselves.
Now, although it is easier to send a love letter, via email, text, iphone, skype etc, we do it less. We make excuses “I didn’t have time” or “I was in a different time zone” but what we are actually saying is “I close my heart” and I just don’t have time to open it – to you.
Virtual reality is powerful and satisfies the soul but it is unsatisfying to the emotional story we call reality. One must master the art of communication from the heart, love letters in whatever form, to maintain and grow relationships, both business and private.
Step back now and ask yourself “who have I not taken the time to “write” a love letter to and if it’s in my heart, why have I not posted it… to the ears, eyes and heart of the one we love. Ultimately, it is we, the self, who suffers from such restraint because all love letters to others are ultimately love letters to self.