Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Meditation on Handwriting

Several months ago, because of some unusual circumstances, I found myself without any access to a computer for roughly a month. So, throughout that one month, I was reduced to relying on the two things that I've neglected for many years--the notebook and the pen.

Without a computer, without Internet, but with a head full of ideas, I found myself writing in a notebook almost each night. But you know what? That one month without a computer was one of the most relaxing months that I ever had, not just because I had less distraction, but because of the feeling I got when putting pen to paper.

It's been a long time since I used only one hand to write. But the feeling of writing against that paper was almost like the organic feeling you get when you carve a piece of wood and see its features slowly conform to the image in your mind. Yes, it wasn't the neatest writing in the world and, yes, there were a few cross-outs here and there, but the feeling was well worth it--even the left over ink smudges on my hand left a sense of accomplishment.

As long as there are college lectures and the need to take quick notes in meetings, handwriting will always have its place. And although handwriting won't die out anytime soon, the sheer "art" of it, along with the recognition of its organic beauty, will eventually come to extinction without either the care or the heart of sentimental antiquity.

Every now and then, we should teach ourselves to write without the keyboard. At least all writers should try it if they haven't already. And when such homage is paid it shouldn't be in simple notes, but in whole letters or even short stories. Because when homage is given to an art that's as old as civilization, it should be given the amount that's due.

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