What if we saw communicating longhand as an opportunity?*
My father always told me to practise neat handwriting, because that’s how you show other people that you’re trustworthy.**
Poor handwriting may not actually be a sign that we are untrustworthy – otherwise, beware doctors. A lack of good handwriting in our lives may be a sign of hurriedness … towards who knows what:
‘There’s a Buddhist story about a man galloping by a monk who asks, Where are you going. Ask my horse, says the man.’^
I always find that things change when I’m writing longhand. I see more as my fountain pen scrapes across the paper, slowing me down even more. I’m particularly thinking of journaling but it spills out into communicating with others, too.
Georgia O’Keefe would paint small flowers large:
“A flower is relatively small. Everyone has many associations with a flower – the idea of flowers. You put out your hand to touch the flower – lean forward to smell it – maybe touch it with your lips almost without thinking – or give it to someone to please them. Still – in a way – nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time. If I could paint the flower exactly as I see it no one would see what I see because I would paint it small like the flower is small.”^^
This feels like the effect of writing longhand. We see a flower, our world, a theme, an other, ourselves with greater clarity:
“So I said to myself – I’ll paint what I see – what the flower is to me but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it – I will make even busy New-Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.”^^
Texts and emails are useful but only up to a point. They begin to lull us into a sense that we are really capturing thoughts or communicating because of how many we send and how quickly we get a response. We’re in danger of believing what Erich Fromm saw us being in danger from:
‘The fact is that most of us are half asleep while we believe ourselves to be awake.’*^
O’Keefe noticed her flowers and painted them large. Which makes me wonder, what do we notice and want others to also see, to benefit from, to be blessed by.
Perhaps a little bit of writing with a pen and paper would help explore this more?
(*From The Story of Telling: The Shorthand Trap.)
(**The character Dani in Albert Espinosa’s If You Tell Me To Come, I’ll Drop Everything, Just Tell Me To Come.)
(^From Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost.)
(^^From Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Georgia O’Keefe on the Art of Seeing.)
(*^From Erich Fromm’s The Art of Listening.)