July 25, 2017

One Million Lovely Letters

Posted in July tagged , , , , , at 10:22 am by viewfromthisdesk

I had planned to write a post about suicide, which is nice and cheery but then that all changed last night.  As ever, I’m referring to something I saw on tv which got me thinking.  And crying and laughing.  If you didn’t watch it, find it on iplayer.

Last night on BBC1 at 7.30 was a program about a lass called Jodi who started writing letters to total strangers.  She has a target to write ‘One Million Lovely Letters’ and some of the people featured talked about how her letter had arrived at a really difficult time and had gotten them through.  One guy was from Canada and had fixed her letter to his computer so it was a daily reminder.  Letters, words, ink on paper are powerful things.

I used to love writing – my teenage years were full of writing to friends and boyfriends.  The angst of those years would pour out as my inky scrawl would fill pages and pages.  I’d look for colourful envelopes and nice paper.  I’d save any money I had for stamps which were much cheaper back then.  I’d feel full of love and excitement when I had an envelope for me when I got home from school.  That someone had taken the time to sit and write to me, take that time to think about me and want to connect with me, that was magical.

I still have notes from people from when I was 14, I’ve kept them and I re-read them.  My gratitude jar was amazing for the couple of years that it worked.  But it’s not been contributed to for a while.  Maybe I haven’t done anything with anyone worth writing about?  But that was amazing, tipping that out on New Years Day, seeing what people had scribbled on the back of a cinema ticket or shopping receipt.  Because it didn’t have to be an essay it could just be ‘I had a really nice time with you today’.  Something so simple makes a huge impact.

I miss it.  I miss writing terribly.  Holding a pen is absolute torture now and it’s all I can do to write happy birthday to someone.  Emails and faceache just are not the same.  They’re nice, but not the same.  I try and write proper letters to people but I have to type them now which I think is somewhat bad mannered.  It’s cheating.  But it’s all I can do and so I console myself with ‘at least I’ve written’ and try not to think about the medium within which I have written.

So, going back to the show – Jodi last night, had set up a webpage where you could request a letter.  At the time of filming, she had 8,000 waiting emails.  According to Twitter, she had over 1,500 emails during the program.  There are that many people out there, who feel that they need that random act of kindness from a stranger to tell them that it will be okay, that they will get through, that they are enough.  And I’ll be honest, I wanted to add myself to that list.  But now I know how many people have also asked, I don’t want to add to her pressure.  I don’t want to make her feel overwhelmed.  In all honesty, I don’t feel worthy.

So. if you find yourself with half an hour this week or weekend, write someone a letter.  Or a card.  Or just a post-it note.  Or rearrange the fridge magnets if you can’t be bothered to pick up a pen.  Tell someone you like their hair, their top, that they made you smile today, that they *are* enough.  Take lyrics from a song (with credits in case they want to listen to it) if you can’t think of anything!  Maybe challenge yourself to write to one different person every day for a week.  Spend fifty pence on a stamp, make them feel special.  It’s important.

Or do what Jodi did.  Write a note and hide it on the bus or train or in the communal fridge.  It doesn’t have to be huge.  Just a handful of words on a boring square of paper.  You don’t even have to add stickers or glitter or a smiley face.

Words hurt and that hurt lasts a lifetime.  But words can also make someone’s life turn turtle in a good way.  Words can remind someone that it’s worth persevering, that it’s worth struggling through because somewhere out there, someone does give a stuff.  Someone does care.