Something amazing happened not too long ago — and all I wanted to do was acknowledge it with a simple — but meaningful gesture.
Three days before my birthday — I received a text on a morning that saw me in low spirits — as I contemplated another birthday with the nagging displeasure of still being too far away from unrealized goals. No bear hugs from the guy who finally found his way to my bosom — no book deals to tweet about with promises of tour dates to follow.
This person jolted me from my pathetic stance with a glowing note about how she was a fan of my work — and had been for quite some time. She wanted to send me a small grant to encourage my efforts.
I was taken aback by the whole thing — I mean does this type of thing even happen anymore?
She was a friend of a friend and previous collaborator — so I was able to trust this welcomed intrusion. It was my former editor who introduced me to Medium back in 2013 — the year I gave it all up to be a full time writer. I was ripe and ready to make writing the focal part of my existence without the barrier of a corporate day job — eating up time and inspiration.
I was touched by this angel’s request and humbly accepted her monetary reward — for a job well done.
She sent it in a matter of minutes and the amount blew me away. I did not anticipate that level of generosity and suddenly my mood was lifted — but it wasn’t because I was hundreds of dollars richer. It had everything to do with the realization that my words do matter.
We do what we do everyday and some of us are driven by the mantra of not working for free — under any circumstances. I’ve always been more occupied with the responsibility of consistently doing my best work — even if my bank account is sporadically increased.
For almost four years — I maintained my blog on Medium and tirelessly dedicated the bulk of my time to keeping it current and relevant — and it was really the love and support from readers that served as — compensation.
So — with this gift of encouragement that literally came out of the blue — I was inclined to send a lovely thank you note in recognition of my good fortune from a real life angel.
On Monday morning — I busted out the package containing the cards and envelopes and proceeded to express my gratitude in words.
I wanted it to look pretty and mature. I knew exactly what to say and how to say it — but I needed the aesthetic to match my best intentions. When I began to write — I was astonished by the jerking motions that displayed how I was struggling to give the letters the dignity they each deserved.
Was it nervousness or the fact that I was rusty? I increased the tempo — hoping that it would build confidence and that sort of worked.
Afterwards — I noticed that I was spending way too much time convincing myself that it didn’t look as bad as I knew it did. So — I tried again — and I still stumbled — but there was some improvement.
The heavy cloud began to hover as I recalled my childhood — and how my primary school years were spent perfecting the artistry of good handwriting with the aid of a cartridge pen — and the sentence that we had to boldly replicate without expanding past the space between lines.
The fox jumped over the log.
I came up with that as a way to practice like I did decades ago — and this time I paid attention to what I could produce without the pressure of a “thank you note.” I just wanted to prove that I still had the skill that I obviously took for granted.
The results were lukewarm as the first try was decent but then the others were shakily amateurish.
It hit me that when you let something go for too long — it eventually bows out — leaving you right where you were before you knew the value of what were about to inherit.
The keyboard has become the instrument of my content — but now I’m inconsolable at the notion that my once gorgeous handwriting has been replaced with the damning evidence of my absence from the practice of putting pen to paper.
I’ve become a victim of the texting age and the reliance on clicks and anything that doesn’t require stocking up on items that used to be my main mode of communication — back when there was intimacy involved in the exchange of messages — that were constructed with your personalized endorsement.
I want my handwriting back to what it used to be — which means that I have to write more. I’ve been thinking all along that this was exactly what I’ve been doing — but now I know that I’ve been delivering the exact opposite.
The way I write is the essence of me and while I was working on the note illustrating my gratitude — I got back that rush of wanting to share myself in a way that speaks for itself.
You can tell a lot about a person by how they write and I need that to become the norm again.
It starts with notes to people of interest instead of emails and quite frankly with all the annoying pop-up ads — and other shit that clutter the framework of inboxes — I’m looking forward to reducing my activity on the web — and focusing more on cursively stunning recipients — with sincere regards and proposals.
It may never be back to what it used to be — but I’m willing to spend all my life writing for my approval.