The Simple Power of a Letter

There's a wooden box that's sitting on my nightstand. It's just wide enough to fit the dozen or so letters inside of it.

Back in October, some of my closest friends wrote those letters—full of mushy, tear-jerker type of stuff—and gave them to me in that box. I read them all. I was moved and grateful and felt for a second like I was in a real-life Hallmark Channel movie.

Since then, that box of letters has sat in the same spot on my nightstand. I left it there, somewhere I'd see it every day, because I figured I'd need it at some point, like "BREAK IN CASE OF EMERGENCY" glass.

I never opened it again until this past week. I wish I had opened it earlier.

I feel like I've walked through the past few months in a fog—any ray of sunny clarity has been more like the exception. I haven't felt like myself. I felt like I wasn't doing a good job at anything—my actual jobs, being a friend, writing. I've been a little bit on my heels, reacting and playing defense. It hasn't been anything terribly negative; it's felt more like limbo, more like I lost sight of the trail markers, and I've been walking around in circles in the hopes I stumble onto the path again.

But then I read those letters.

It was like a line of thirteen people each took turns to slap me awake.

It's crazy how something as simple as a letter, even a page or less, can do the work of resuscitation or be a compass to help you find your bearings again.

I'm reminded I don't have to be perfect.

I'm reminded that people exist who are well aware of my flaws and don't hold them over my head.

I'm reminded that no matter who in the past has convinced me I need to jump through their hoops, the people who care have never needed me to do that.

I'm reminded that there's a way to have both complexity and simplicity. To be strong, but gentle. To be tough, but kind. To live wild and free, but tempered and deliberate.

I'm reminded that hope is contagious.

I'm reminded that love is True North.

And I'm reminded of maybe the truest words that have been written to me: "For real, you're gonna get diabetes from that ice cream habit, FYI."

As I've said, I really should have opened that box earlier.

Something as simple as a letter can work wonders for the soul.

My friend Scott (who recently wrote something that has torn my heart open, in a good way) has kept saying, "Do for one what you would want to do for many."

I'm hoping the same might be true for a blog post. I've been reminded I don't need to have world-changing, revolutionary ideas to make writing worthwhile—some simple words about struggle and hope might be the spark someone needs.

Even if it's just one person.

I kept those letters in that box where they were just waiting for me to rediscover the power of my friends' words. I'm realizing I've kept my own words locked up for a while, too.

So here's to opening boxes, and writing letters, and speaking life.