In my previous column, I talked a lot about how I spent my summer working at a sleepaway camp in rural Maine. Well, the summer has officially come to an end and the semester has begun in full swing.
When I reflect back to what defined my summer, I think of my camp friends who I hope will be my forever friends. I reflect on the starkly defined ring tans on my fingers from all the time spent outdoors as well as the many belly laughs I have shared with the campers I have gotten to know and care for. I also think of how much I have grown to appreciate nature and the simple things that come of it, such as the call of an owl in the quiet of the night or the morning dew that coats the vast fields around camp. Most significantly, I think of how my love and appreciation for the art of written word has been rejuvenated.
I’ve always been a lover of anything that has to do with words — whether it be reading, writing poetry, collecting quotes or even obsessively finding out the Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day daily. During the academic year, it’s often difficult for me to be able to do any of what I just mentioned due to how busy my classes and other commitments keep me. However, I have always made a greater effort to kindle this love over breaks and this summer was no different.
My preferred method to do so has always been writing letters. While living at home during the pandemic in 2020, I somewhat forced my friends to become penpals with me, and this is a tradition that I have continued with some of them over winter break in addition to the summer. It’s safe to say that they have been the primary recipients of my letters from camp.
I genuinely think there is something so inherently beautiful about crafting as well as receiving a handwritten letter. With a letter, I always make sure to take out enough time to be able to share my thoughts. At camp, we actually have designated letter-writing days for the campers throughout the week, and I used this as a time to write some letters myself! My letters are often long and a little chaotic as they follow the train of thought I have while I write.
Along with letters, I have fallen in love with using postcards to communicate with my loved ones. Not only have I sent out many postcards, but I have also received plenty from friends that have been traveling or living around the world this summer. This form of written word is one I utilize when I have a story to tell or have traveled to a different place. I find it so fun to communicate through a little snapshot of a location — it’s almost like you’re there with the person you’re sending it to!
To me, this triumphs any and all communication I have had through texts, phone calls or video calls. My connection at camp was so bad that most of the time, I couldn’t hear the person on the other end or they couldn't hear me. Along with that, I was often talking with someone when I had a free minute during the day or at the end of the day — both were times when the exhaustion from the day hit me.
With a letter or postcard, it’s just me and the paper in front of me, and I am able to write when I have the time as well as the capacity for it. With that, I can communicate freely in a way that I am not able to do so electronically. Furthermore, it simply allows me to use what I love — the written word — to express myself.
I hope that this practice of sending letters and postcards is one I can incorporate into my daily life. I would love to send handwritten updates to my family or even friends that go to different schools. By sharing this, I encourage you to take some time to slow down in your thoughts and your communication. Pull out some pen and paper and write to someone in your life — a handwritten note is such a simple yet beautiful thing to give as well as receive.
Zoya Zahid is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.