I recently visited my storage unit to reconnect to some of my old stuff (and memories) and found some things that I had boxed up about five years ago before I sold my home and moved to New York. It’s been a whirlwind since then. I have to admit that moving back from Brooklyn to Dallas, my granddaughter being born, and me living with my family, has left little time for me to focus on the fine arts, specifically writing. Living with family has its benefits and I’m so grateful for it, but I struggle to find time to do the creative things I once did when I lived single.
While rummaging through these boxes, I discovered old stationary that I had collected through years as an avid letter and postcard writer. I have to admit, it sort of guilted me that I don’t write letters much anymore. I wonder if it’s a lack of time, maybe desire, or if the art of communicating this way is slipping away from us. When I look back on the last 5-10 years of my life, I recognize how much technology has changed us on a personal level. If we’re not scrolling through social media feeds by the hours, consuming megabytes of content created by people we have never met, then we’re trying to figure out what to post to get noticed on our own feeds. Everything seems to revolve around social media and being online.
These old (and quite lovely) stationary papers and postcards remind me of the beauty of letter writing and bring up fond memories of loved ones, letters written, and when we all were younger. I’m not sure if you can easily find beautiful paper goods like this anymore, but regardless, it has built a fire under me to pull myself in a bit and think about how I’m spending my free time. Where am I placing the finer arts in my life? Painting, singing, writing, correspondence, etc. There’s plenty of time for cooking and conversation around my house but when do we actually settle down to be quiet, put away our devices and actually write a letter or compose a song, read, write a poem, or draw? Is it even necessary anymore? On an overall intelligence level I think these things round us out, polish the edges, expand our minds to discover more beauty, and brings about awareness, so YES, I think it is very important.
There was a time in our society when the finer arts were taught to our children. In some homes, it was expected of small children to know how to play a piano piece, sing, to practice making colors on a pallet to create something original, or to build things out of scraps they had at home. These activities were encouraged in general and the skills nourished, even taught, in schools and valued by our society – that was then. In today’s tech age, however, we are focused on online learning, communicating on devices, playing games on apps, doing business online instead of face to face…. and I have to say, it has all become a little bland. Seems like all the texture, the magic, and creativity has seeped out into a mediocre look-alike-world through all these wires and connections, apps and filters.
I’m going to set a time this week to sit down and write a few letters using my old stationary. I think my family will be thrilled to get something that has a tangible message. Maybe it will bring back memories of when they received letters – or wrote them. Maybe it will strike a note on how important it is to communicate with each other. How irreplaceable it is to take the time to send a card, book, or photo – anything that doesn’t involve technology but does involve human emotion and a deliberate focus to reach out.
We are making a huge mistake if we fail to focus on the fine arts and encourage our children to do the same. I know that we will never go back to “the way it used to be” – technology is here to stay. But it is a beautiful talent to possess the ability to creatively communicate outside the realm of technology. To write in cursive, draw with a pencil in hand, mix primary colors on a hand held palette to create hues that will transmit (human technology!) what’s in the imagination and see it come to life on canvas or in a song. Sharing the heart of our day, the art of our life – not for money, likes, promotion, or to gain followers, but to experience our own human creativity.
© Sandy Hibbard 2021
Photo Credit: Elena Limkina https://mymodernmet.com/sketchbook-art-elena-limkina/