Sunday, July 27, 2008

What is this Post About? Handwriting...?

"Up above the blue line, down to the red line..." I notice my mother's beautiful fingers, wrapped around my chubby little hand as she chants the familiar handwriting 'mantras' that teach me the wonder of the written word. I can smell the gentle fragrance of her perfume, as she leans over me, guiding my hand and pencil over the old four-lined handwriting books that we used for learning how to write. I'm all concentration as I strive to make myself remember these heuristics, that would serve me well for the rest of my life. In the soft morning light that tumbles in through the window, I learn how to represent the world through symbols made with a pencil...

You know, its odd that I almost never actually "write" anymore... I often use the term "writing" when I refer to these posts that I create on LifeStrings, but I haven't actually written anything, have I? I usually make it a point to carry a pen with me wherever I go, but I use it only to sign on something or scrawl a few clumsy notes during a meeting or presentation. If I'm not concentrating hard, I tend to cringe at my own handwriting...for it seems dreadful compared to the beautiful script my school notes were written in.

All through school and college, I filled entire notebooks with my writing...everything from stories to mathematics... the middle finger of my right hand still has a toughened bit of skin foremost digit - the only reminder of how hard I held my pen while furiously taking notes in my Cognitive Psychology class. Looking back on those times, its strange to observe how alien it feels when I write something now.

But then... isn't life full of such examples, the more of it you live. We tend to lose touch with so many things, as other things come to take their place. The typewriter and now the keyboard replaced the pen, the compact disc brought an end to the era of audio cassettes, cable TV replaced VCRs... the list could go on an on...! We're left with little glimmers of the past, that we tuck into cartons, drawers, albums etc. to be taken out and looked at with nostalgia someday...

It's funny how soon we can give up something we clung to so strongly only a little while ago. I transitioned from writing to typing, so smoothly, that I barely even noticed the difference until I tried writing a substantial amount one day (and gave up in dismay!). People say they find it hard to let go of things and each other...without realising that they do it all the time. How many of us are in touch with the school friends we shared so much of our childhood with? When did we last look up the teachers that most inspired us in college? When did we last take a minute to call up a favourite aunt/uncle just to say hello...NOT for a birthday or anniversary?

You see...we let go of things all the time! It's just that we're used to doing it out of a subconscious tendency to seek convenience and avoid anything we perceive as burdensome (I'm not sure if that's a word...but it sounds like it should be!). We let go of people, relationships, possessions and the attachments we have for them quite automatically, as we find other things, people etc. to attach ourselves to. We hold on to just little shreds of the past, that we never want to be without... just in case there is time and space in which to enjoy them once more. So, for instance, I will NEVER give up carrying a pen around, even though I almost never use it, just in case it comes handy sometime...and because its somewhat reassuring to know I still have it...and still know how to write. It would take a definite amount of mental effort and self-reassurance to give up this near-obsolete habit... I wonder if I will be up to it someday... I wonder if I even should...

Aren't some relationships just like this pen? Almost non-existent, but we carry them around (because we know they have value for us even though we've taken them for granted), never knowing when we might need to invoke them... careful not to confront the anxiety of anticipating whether or not they will still be there when we do?

My solution to the problem of the pen is to take the time and make the effort to WRITE...even if its just a few lines a day. It makes me feel connected and refreshes my mind with so many associations I have with the concept of this skill. When it comes to relationships you value, it's pretty much the same...MAKE the time to call someone you care about but seldom meet anymore... DO something that makes them feel you're still a part of their lives...that you WANT to be a part of their... don't make someone you care about as obsolete an an old pen...and don't become that pen for someone either!

God bless!