I woke up to an e-mail from a stranger:
Dear Ms. Worthy, I'm writing to you in hopes that you're the Paige Worthy who was quoted in a recent Wall Street Journal article about letter writing. The article mentions the importance of letters and how letters make us feel more connected, so I thought you might be interested in my new charity, Girls Love Mail. The goal of Girls Love Mail is to give the gift of a hand-written letter to a breast cancer patient. We've forgotten the healing power of a simple hand-written note. If you're not the Paige from the Wall Street Journal article, I apologize for taking your time. But, then again, you may still want to write a letter. Gina
It was me quoted in the Journal. On the front page of the Personal Journal, in fact (below the fold, but I'll take what I can get for now). That whole thing was a testament to the convoluted glory of real life colliding with the Internet: My old New York roommate, Janet, mentioned me to a friend who runs a blog whose editor was being interviewed for the story, who passed my experience along to the reporter — who happens to be someone I've adored and followed on Twitter for at least a year.
So there's that. It's so exhilarating when someone just hands me an opportunity to spread the word about something amazing. Considering that September is Self-Improvement Month — according to a lot of not-terribly-reputable sites on a Google search, and my more reputable neighborfriend, Sean, who is blogging about his month-long journey to a more content existence — this seems like as good a place as any to begin my attempt to make a more positive mark on the world.
I know the feeling so well of opening the mailbox and find more than white security envelopes with plastic address windows and four-digit ZIP code extensions. The exhilaration of seeing handwriting I recognize — real ink etched into paper that was sealed by a warm body with a pulse, instead of a machine, and carefully tearing it open with all the expectation of a miniature Christmas. Even newspaper clippings from my grandparents make my heart race.
And I love writing notes to people I love: sticky notes left on my way out the door, tiny envelopes wedged under a windshield wiper, five-dollar letterpress birthday cards. I have an entire drawer full of stationery embossed with my name. The problem is, that drawer has been full for a long time. I've had some of that stationery since middle school. I don't send letters the way I used to. I don't take the time to connect like I should. Now, I often ignore even text messages for days at a time. What gives?
Something really rubbed me the wrong way last night when I was finishing out the evening with some startup founder types. One was telling the others a story about meeting with an investor who cautioned him against starting a business, because if he did, his marriage would be twice as likely to fail, and he'd go what felt like forever without speaking to even his best friends. Probably lose them. I expected him indignantly to say, "Well, I proved him wrong!" He said just the opposite. That the guy had been completely right; that he never talked to the group of guys he practically grew up with anymore, and that the past six months have put more strain on his relationship with his wife than he could have imagined.
Maybe I'm naïve, but does it really have to take that much of an investment to show someone how much you still care about them, even when your life is changing, when you're stressed out beyond belief? Isn't it comforting to surround yourself with people you love when everything else seems terrifying and awful?
I don't know. I went a bit haywire on them and couldn't quite explain why. Startup people are a rare breed. They cannot be reasoned with. Maybe I'm just not suited to that lifestyle. Okay, I know I'm not. But that's another topic entirely.
Friends and family are so important, and there are too many days when I realize I'm neglecting both. So. A day late, I begin my own Selif-Improvement Month with a recommitment to the people I love. I will work harder to keep them where they belong: the bottom of my heart, the top of my mind.
And Gina, I'll be writing you back soon, but if you happen to be reading…I'm in.
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.