Sunday, August 5, 2012
Postcards from the edge
I got this habit from a Norwegian Rotary exchange student who worked with me on my college newspaper in Douglas, Georgia.
Wherever Kjersti went, she sent postcards to her friends and family. She had a knack for choosing postcards that defied the typical 'Greetings from...' fare. She preferred choosing postcards more for their aesthetic qualities than for being a giant 'You are here' that we see in shopping mall directory kiosks.
When I began making road trips near and far, I took to sending postcards that also reflected my quirky tastes. I have mailed postcards with images of the now-defunct DeSoto automobile, the great actor Montgomery Clift and a Marc Chagall painting. When I correspond this way, it is my chance to revive, in my small way a variety of arts that seem to be fading.
First of the endangered talents is connecting with my friends and loved ones through putting pen to paper. For me, sending a few simple lines or a paragraph from afar is an old school 'shout out' to people and sending it in a very unusual and unexpected way. I know that I enjoy checking my mailbox, as I have since childhood, and delighting in finding a friendly message in my mailbox.
Secondly, sending postcards can spark renewed communications with those who otherwise would be lost or forgotten. For example, I exchange postcards with my kindergarten teacher. Over three decades since I left Ms. Nichols' class, we regularly send friendly and informal reports to each other about our respective travels and vacations. I look forward to each Christmas card time when my now-retired teacher updates me on her life and family in North Carolina. Through my writing to people, I learned that my former Sunday school teacher collects postcards. Judy's name is atop the list of people to keep in touch with while I am on the road.
Lastly, postcards are a selfish pursuit for me. Writing regularly, even after my school year is done for the summer, helps me to stay in the flow (To borrow a page or two from Eric Butterworth) as I learn to express myself more naturally each time I put my thoughts down. This added benefit of mental and spiritual renewal is why I highly recommend buying some novel postcards and a few postcard stamps.