Bloganuary: “What’s a treasure that has been lost?”

I try not to ruminate on losses, but I do sometimes recall people, places, and things that I wish were still around and accessible. Looking back at what’s been lost, without dwelling – just appreciating – helps me cherish what is now.

One treasure I miss is life before the digital age. As I sit here typing to the world right now, I realize I may seem hypocritical. There are many positives to social media and being connected to the world by the internet, and I would honestly not go back if given the chance. It is convenient and reassuring to reach loved ones at a moment’s notice, to have information at one’s fingertips, and to shop without leaving home. But just as people wax nostalgic for slow fashion and slow food, I remember fondly what life was like before email, when neat cursive penmanship was a skill to be cultivated, stamps were a regular shopping-list item, and letters and cards by snail mail were the norm. I remember when people’s eyes were not habitually fixated on a tiny device – while walking, in class, at a meal – but instead looked outward at the world. The communication paradigm has shifted so rapidly in the last generation, and – even though I have kept up with the changes intellectually – emotionally, I haven’t quite settled yet.

I used to write a lot as a kid, and I had a flourishing written correspondence with my paternal grandma, who lived in Virginia. The letters from my grandma were lost long ago, too, probably in one of many moves, which makes me a little sad. I wonder what she would think now of the miracle of Zoom, text messaging, and blogging from almost anywhere on earth.

Before digital communication, patience was a virtue. Not so long ago, Christmas and birthday cards were sent exclusively by snail mail, and sometimes they arrived late or were lost. I had to acknowledge gifts I received with a hand-written note, mailed back. All that writing took time, and all that writing helped me develop a callus where the pen rested on my finger. Think of the paper we save now, with e-cards, e-readers, and texting. Even so, I still miss the tactile nature of writing, and in the rare occasion I receive a postcard or greeting by mail, I’m thrilled.

I think the loss between then and now is something intangible – maybe it’s the idea that more work had to go into communicating, and one might assume, more care. There was more mystery and anticipation in the comings and goings of correspondence. Easy communication is taken for granted now, perhaps. But with all that’s lost, there are gains. I can’t imagine living my life as an expat without the communication and information tools available to me now. I still try to find balance, though, and put my smartphone aside as much as possible.

3 thoughts on “Bloganuary: “What’s a treasure that has been lost?”

  1. Oh man, I enjoyed your story and it took me back to sitting at our dining room table, hand writing “thank you’s” to family and friends for gifts received on special occasions. Thank you for jogging that memory.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It certainly seems to be as I watch my kids utilize the technology vs hand written notes. Hand written notes and face to face communication are certainly in lower numbers it appears.

        Liked by 1 person

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