On Letter Writing Revisited

A friend posted a comment about small talk that that could be immediately transferred to letter writing. Why? The post ended with “I don’t wanna know ‘What’s Up.’” It seems that a lot of my letters are catching up and, so, this seemed applicable to me (NOT targeted at me).

Before moving on, let’s just say that sometimes an “update” is valuable; however, one could argue that the friend you’re writing to should know big stuff – like what’s happening – so letters then are naturally deeper. Fewer headlines, more substance. This goes directly in the face of much social media that seems best to have short, sweet posts – or headlines – and not 500-word dissertations about life in any respect. But, that’s me… Yes, my posts of the past MAY have violated this maxim, but, over time, one adjusts or changes and this is one for me. So, there’s the blog – or letters for a more personal approach.

Anyway, this friend’s post mentioned several aspects of life that they might have more interest in than just what’s up. The topics included childhood. My bet is that most friends or near-friends (acquaintances with feeling…) may not know a lot about another’s childhood. In fact, your kids may not know a ton.

Another was your favorite scents. I wonder if most have ever expressed that, versus liking a certain scent or disliking another. Mine is honeysuckle; however, my nose is very weak, so that scent may not be able to be picked out of a group. It’s amazing that that has always been an issue for me, but scents are hard…

What types of music you like was another. That goes all over the place with me, but not all are well liked.

Another category was your religious views. Wow. That can open a can of worms. My position has shifted over the years to what could be defined as a spiritual view versus religious one. But, then, maybe there’s no shift at all, but a realization over time of what translation fundamental opinions have.

Goals for the future was another one and that applies to a retired person, perhaps more fundamentally that one thinks, because you have to have some goal or you’re living with reckless abandon hoping the kids or society will take care of you. Beyond the financial considerations, it’s just healthier – mentally – and maybe physically – to have some sense of where you’re headed.

Then there was “what keeps you up at night” or, translated, what keeps you from sleeping, either falling asleep or getting back to sleep. For me, that’s dumb stuff for the most part, but it’s a good discussion or letter.

“How much certain things mean to you” was another. That is by nature deep. Even when describing why certain things don’t mean anything to you could be more than a one sentence explanation. There’s always “why.” If there is no “why,” maybe the topic has not been explored enough.

Finally, there were your insecurities and fears. These are two things to me. There are a lot of insecurities that aren’t fearful and maybe fears that don’t really involve insecurity. Or maybe that’s just an excuse to segregate certain concerns. Maybe a better differentiation would be things you can actively do something about and things you cannot or should not.

There are many other topics that do not fit the banned category of “what’s up.” Most could include a lot of questions that start with the word “why.” In fact, maybe “why” is a follow-up question when there is no reason given? There is the personal meaning of love. Couples ought to discuss that before that lifetime commitment thing. How about a favorite color combination? Food questions are numerous. All sorts of subject matter is deeper than “what’s up.”

The earlier topics above (before I tossed in some other possibilities) are heavy. In a typical letter (what is that – 2, 3 pages?), it seems impossible to cover all of these. I did send a letter to the friend who posted this right after reading the post. To an extent, childhood was superficially covered – some high and low points – and then religious views were touched on and that somewhat superficial look took three pages or so. If more people talked with friends about the “deep” stuff, there may well be better understanding of each other. It seems difficult to believe one would “unfriend” someone (the social media equivalent of dropping you as a friend) for revealing their innermost thoughts about issues. It takes a lot of different people and ideas and opinions to make up a world of several billion. Maybe we ought to be glad we have someone who will listen and someone we can listen to.

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