I constantly marvel at how technology has impacted our world in the last 25 years. As a Baby Boomer, I spent nearly half my life without the benefit of computers, cell phones, and email. Life was simpler in those days, and time seemed to pass more slowly. I remember sending letters to Peter in the early 80s, when he lived in the Netherlands. We met one summer when I was traveling in Europe with my mom, and for two years we had a long-distance relationship. No Skype, no email, just pen and paper and a quiet spot to think and write.
After I was finished, I’d address the envelope, lick the stamp—this was before stamps had adhesive—and drop my letter in the mailbox. Then I’d wait with a tingling sense of anticipation for two weeks or even longer until a letter from Peter would magically appear in my mailbox. I still have those letters we wrote to each other. They capture such a special time in our relationship and bring back wonderful memories of those first falling-in-love moments.
Of course, letter writing is becoming a lost art. We use email to correspond and rarely take the time to share the deep thoughts and wistful yearnings that we once might have included. More than likely, we’re in a hurry when we sit down to the computer to correspond with someone and simply peck out a minimalist message minus the reflections or stream-of-consciousness writing that lurks inside us. Or we might choose to post something on Facebook, a random shout-out to our friends about something we want to share. Yet we never really know who gets our message and what they think. This is not really communicating, is it?
Whatever happened to the art of conversation? When was the last time you had a heart-to-heart with someone? In this high-tech modern world, I’m afraid conversing is becoming another lost art. Someone once said that there are three levels of conversation. At the bottom are conversations about people—better known as gossip. Next is talking about things, i.e., your new flat screen TV, the car you’re thinking about buying, etc. At the top of the conversation chain is discussing ideas—like what you want to be when you grow up or secret dreams no one knows about or what your priorities are in life. These are topics that, when shared with a close confidant, can help you learn and grow and change for the better.
If you’re having trouble getting in touch with your ideas and dreams, try journal writing. It’s a great outlet for expressing and developing your thoughts. I recently attended a journal writing workshop at a NAWBO meeting presented by Debi Wacker and Theresa Ceniccola. While this workshop focused on how you could use a journal to help define and plan your business strategies, it also included an exercise in free writing, which according to Theresa, helps clear your mind of the clutter that interferes with your best thinking. She suggests writing in a journal every morning as a way of freeing up memory, so to speak. Just write down whatever’s bothering you, she advised. Let it all out, and then keep going. If you let yourself go, you’ll be surprised at the ideas that will arise. Pay attention to those that recur, Theresa said. They need consideration.
The world is changing quickly, no doubt. But that doesn’t mean we have to let go of some of the things that make us feel good: like writing a long letter or having a heart-to-heart with a friend or writing in a journal. All of these things take time, and while it seems like we don’t have enough of it, the fact is we all choose how we spend our time. Spend it wisely.
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