Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Intentionally Quiet

This Tuesday morning, like all other Tuesdays, I woke as usual--no alarm (it's my day off), favorite breakfast, extra reading time, responding to messages, and two cups of Earl Grey. But this morning I took inventory. Do you realize I am attached to three email accounts, a facebook, and a cell phone? Five different digital/electronic pagers. I'm on-call 24-7, and I volunteered for it. Why do I make myself that available without the pretense of saving lives? When was the last time I went anywhere without checking one of these devices? Is the person sitting across from me at dinner not enough communication for me? Am I just waiting for something better? Apparently, I need a sidleline electronic conversation to hold my attention to a real one.

Texts, emails, and facebook make written/typed communication far too simple. It's easy to fill inboxes with piles of fluffy nothings and punctuation martyred for giggles. Sure, electronic communication has its benefits and I enjoy using it; my point isn't to do away with it. I only think our overuse of its ease has squelched the practice of handwritten letter writing or a focused, articulate conversation.

So, the stack of letters on my bedside table awaiting response makes me smile. These do not beep or buzz or stare at me with emblazoned font. They wait patiently. Their sweet silence wins my attention rather than demands it. I love responding in written format. I've depleted two ball point pens and a book of stamps in the last three weeks. What I love best, though, about this communication outlet is its intentionality. To write an insightful, responsive letter which conveys your heart, you have no option but intentionality. You must sit and focus. You cannot write letters at the family dinner table or in front of the TV. You consider the recipient in your choice of stationary, your word usage, and length. Most importantly, you only write if you have something worth saying.

Let's practice letter-writing once in awhile in addition to our emails. Who doesn't get a thrill out of receiving mail? If I know and love you, I would far rather see your handwriting on an envelope than a bold link on my homepage. Come on. You know you have someone to write. Try it.

And when you're out with people, silence the cell. Someone, a person, has taken time out of his or her day and chosen to spend it on you. Show your appreciation! Practice. We all need a little cell phone detox.

**Yes, I am writing this in a blog. Online. To people I do not know. Remember, I don't believe that online perpetuates evil, but it does free the avenue to listless comments and hasty emotional responses from responsible checkpoints. Let's weigh our words.

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