Whilst I was taught telegram writing in the 90s, my 6-year-old niece is taught email. So I decided to send her a message to see how she would reply:
I didn’t get a reply right away but I was over the moon like a stage aunt when she did:
Now it makes me wonder if that heart and that sad emoticon was something she picked from a variety of hearts and emoticons, or if she had to type “heart” and “sad” first before it was converted into images.
Whatever it was, I got her message: she misses me and is sad about it. I understood what it was, but how she wrote it made me wonder.
This is the norm now. Even I don’t write much on a paper anymore and I still call myself a handwriting advocate. There is something about the connection of the pen to the paper intermediated by the hand that is charming, romantic, and divine.
Unlike typing on a keyboard, handwriting takes time, it slows down your universe and takes you to a totally different dimension as if your surrounding, when you lift your chin from the paper and look around, suddenly turns baroque, the air filled with hummed Shakespearean English conversations, men in fedoras clutching canes, women walking with parasols and skirts kissing the ground, children tailing behind them clothed in elaborate multi layers and long laces.
To enjoy handwriting, you have to participate in every stroke and every curve and every point and every turn.
Soon enough, we will forget that the pen and the pencil ever existed, and that our ABCs are now something we tap on the keyboard and no longer a figure we draw on a paper.
The younger generation might never experience the feel of a sturdy pen between their fingers, the opportunity to make mistakes on paper and scratch out words that shouldn’t be there, the haughtiness of a perfect cursive “A” and the sexiness of a long-legged “g”, the inevitability of a sweaty palm whatever the weather, the overwhelming emotions that swim through the veins from your heart to your hand to the pen that pierces through the paper to the back and you’re not even angry, nor the delicate writing you endeavour on your essay paper because the pen, unlike the pencil, does not allow erasures.
They might never know the meanness of a newly-sharpened pencil or the ugly stick figures it can draw and the fighting that may ensue between them, or the lines and curves it can produce to create a blueprint of your dream house or dream farm, nor the careful shading of an answer on an exam paper, or the weight it causes the ear of a carpenter where it lays whilst he measures twice and cuts once.
They might never know unless we remind them constantly how we used to write love letters to the moon or the boy next door on intricately folded lined paper slid into a white envelope that is slid into the gap underneath the door but not before licking its flap first to seal it, or how we used to feel when Ms Penmanship teacher and subsequently the class hails us as Best in Handwriting because we know how to do our Ls and Gs properly, or the chance to read someone’s character whether they’re open- or narrow-minded or if they’re ambitious or content with how they space out between words and cut across their Ts.
They might never know unless we keep writing with our hands ourselves and remember for a time about the time in history when things were simpler, technology was secondary, and sending and receiving a message was sandwiched by sheer anticipation, that the latter was more important and in fact necessary to build the meaning of the message itself.
The times, they are a-changin’.
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’
*For The Daily Post’s daily prompt, Handwriting.