I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the art of writing letters today. Growing up, letters were a gift passed on in a day, that would live into the future. I need them just as much now, as I did then.
But I fear I’m not very good at writing letters. If anything, the digital age has provoked that. I still write them, but they’re not necessarily letters, in their usual form. In many ways, this is one of them. Who I’m writing it for is, of course, as much a mystery to me as it is to you.
Today, I woke up feeling like someone had run me over with one of those old-school garden rollers that used to flatten the grass and serve not much purpose, from what I understand. We used to have one, in the house I grew up in. I have never understood their purpose, but that suggests more about my lack of gardening skills than it does anything else. That aside, I had a list for today and, after attempting to tackle it, I neatly moved that list to tomorrow. There are some days where you just cannot.
Instead, I retreated to my bed, with a cup of tea and took to scrolling through my ‘must watch’ list on Netflix. And there I found a wonder: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.
If you haven’t watched it, or read the book, do so. But – be warned – your heart will relocate to your throat and remain there throughout.
Essentially, it’s a story of a letter that was not sent. Instead, pieced together by things he finds, a young boy embarks upon an expedition (something his father had been in the habit of creating for him, before he was killed) to solve the mystery within. The young boy uses this expedition as a way to feel closer to his father, as he says:
“Oskar Schell: If the sun were to explode, you wouldn’t even know about it for 8 minutes because thats how long it takes for light to travel to us.
For eight minutes the world would still be bright and it would still feel warm.
It was a year since my dad died and I could feel my eight minutes with him… were running out.”
Many of the letters and posts I’ve listed here, are about those eight minutes too. In many ways, I am not sure if the eight minutes between my parents and I have elapsed. In some ways, as awful as it is to admit to myself and to type, I think they may have. Sometimes, in the moments imbued by them, and the scenes that play out before me where they’d fit, I feel like those eight minutes continue.
That’s why I write though. That’s why I write here, and there and everywhere. I want those eight minutes to last as long as they possibly can, even if I started them early, so they can continue long into the future beyond me.
Those letters I cling to, those ones that stretched those eight minutes for me, I keep them close. I place my hand upon them and cry. Sometimes, I smile at them. Occasionally, nowadays, I dive in and find an answer I had sought out, but had not seen before. They are my history book and navigational chart, just as the constellations above used to guide sailors to shore.
There was no real reason to write today, except to say that, in the future, I hope the words speak the things I could not say. Or the things I had to skip past. Or that they fill in the gaps we’ve forgotten, or encapsulate a moment we let go by.