Today a stranger approached me in the park and asked what I was writing.
I had seen him and his grand daughter stroll past me earlier as I lay in the grass, writing in my journal on Primrose Hill in London.
His presence startled me as I hadn’t seen him walking towards me. He introduced his grand daughter, Sofia, and then began to ask what I was writing. I shared with him & Sofia that I have been traveling for the past three months by myself and I found it comforting to write in my journal about my experiences and reflect on everything I’ve seen and done. He explained to me how he was very impressed with my act of writing pen to paper. It’s a dying art, you see.
For me, writing has always been apart of my life. Since elementary school we learned the proper way to draw letters from print to cursive. We were graded on our ability to produce clearly written letters, and I was good at it. Maybe that’s why I enjoy writing. I enjoy seeing words form in front of me on a blank page, I love seeing my creation of every letter come together to form a story, to form my story.
As I continued speaking with the stranger we shared our favorite places in Europe and the United States. We talked about the importance of being happy and finding that happiness wherever you may live — which, before he showed up, I had been writing about in my journal. He shared with me that he’s a publisher for a company in NYC and for the past 30 years has worked in close association with their Chinese partners. He now speaks Chinese and envies the beauty of their written language. He also composes music and poetry and finds the art of writing to be beautiful and something to be held onto tightly as the digital age takes over.
He told me to keep writing pen to paper, to hold onto my journals and to cherish the beauty of what I’ve created.
I shook his hand and said thank you. I never got his name, but if I’m meant to see him again I’m sure I’ll see him around Primrose Hill over this next week. And if not, then his words will stick with me and I’ll continue to write in my journal and hopefully pass on the art of writing to new generations.
After the stranger left I felt compelled to write down my thoughts about our conversation — and this is what he left me with:
“It’s true. I hardly see people writing in journals, let alone hand writing letters. Cursive was something once taught in elementary school. It was thought of to be a sign of education, of intelligence. But in today’s day and age of computers, typing has taken precedence over the simple act of writing pen to paper.
With the growing gap between generations, the knowledge of spelling has also been lost. Computers are capable of fixing errors in spelling before one even knows they’ve made a mistake. Therefore, it becomes more difficult to learn.
Its an interesting concept to think hand writing may be obsolete in the future. Down the line people may not even know what pens & pencils are — it could be a faint glimmer in their history.
As easy as it is to send an email, I think hand writing letters is a beautiful way to communicate. It may not be the fastest, but it’s more personal and an act I care to share with the younger generations to come. I hope to keep it alive even if its one letter at a time.”
And even though I keep this blog I will continue to write in my journal as an act of personal reflection, an act of personal therapy, and an act of conservation of the written language.