Wouldn’t the beauty have more meaning with other minds to admire it? Wouldn’t it be transformed by other minds? I’m not talking about a passive admiration of beauty but a participation in that beauty, in which everyone is enlarged.*
Narrative is not just a useful device we found along the way to keep ourselves amused, it is core to the human experience.**
Handwriting has the power to shape who we are and how we live.
Handwriting is personal, connecting us to ourselves. It’s also a means for exploring how we connect to others and bring our contribution.
There are many digital journals but then we’re using someone else’s fonts, and every letter we form feels the same. When we use a pen, however, we create our own fonts, every letter requires our hands to move differently. In the feeling of this there’s also a different kind of flow of thoughts onto a page. We feel the resistance of nib on paper, we are able to lose some of the thoughts in our heads that mingle with what I need to ponder – the food shop, not having enough Christmas cards, the place we have to be this afternoon. We’ll come back to these but for a few moments, there’s something special or beautiful or difficult or painful to explore.
The earliest forms of writing were for making lists and inventories but were s useful beyond the functional. Stories and and thoughts on life and grand philosophies were captured alongside lists of the number of wine casks and sacks of grain in a ship’s hold.
Barbara Bash writes about this in a lovely short piece on the art of handwriting. Here she comments on the early Phoenician alphabet:
‘It […] remained a magical portal linking the inner voice with the outer world, bringing thoughts into form through the movement of the head and stylus on the page.’^
It opens up what Joseph Campbell described as the beauty of being alive expressed in an incalculable number of ways, allowing us to explore the big question:
‘How much is the beauty of our own lives is about the beauty of being alive? How much of it is conscious and intentional. That is the big question.’
Bash suggests that with the different forms of writing we have today, it leaves handwriting in a new and ancient place:
‘Precisely because it is no longer essential for communication, handwriting can now be free to express its true nature as an embodied practice of creative expression, a synchronisation of mind and body.’^
(*The character Uncle Deva in Alan Lightman’s Mr g.)
(**From gapingvoid’s blog: It’s about the stories we tell.)
(^From Barbara Bash’s article The Simple Joy of Writing by Hand; Mindful magazine.)