With the reader’s eye

Dear reader January 2015

Ozeki’s quote inspired me to stop reading and start writing. January, 2015

“Print is predictable and impersonal, conveying information in a mechanical transaction with the reader’s eye.  Handwriting, by contrast, resists the eye, reveals its meaning slowly, and is as intimate as skin.”Ruth Ozeki

When I read this quote, I was flooded with mental images of the handwriting of so many people who live in my heart.  I thought of the letters from my grandmothers, and how I cannot bear to part with them, a fragmented vision of them coming alive for me again at the sight of their words written to me many years ago.

Of all the items that accumulate in a life of nearly six decades, I find that letters and cards containing handwritten notes are the hardest for me to discard.  I suppose that’s why I have so many of them, packed away randomly in boxes scattered in various locations, their contents seen by chance when I am looking for something specific.

Some are from people who will always be part of my life, and some are from those I knew only briefly, but each is unique, the words formed in loops or swirls or scrawls as personal as a fingerprint.

All of us who are blessed to know how to write legibly with a pen or pencil are in possession of a skill that is increasingly vanishing from everyday life.  It’s understandable, of course; like many others, I prefer the keyboard to the pen because I can produce words much more quickly with it.   Perhaps my initial difficulty with handwriting has left me with residual resistance to it.  (I was traumatized to get the first “C” of my life in that subject in fifth grade, and to this day, I print rather than use cursive.)

Yet I love to write by hand.  I love using different ink colors, and choosing stationery, and addressing and stamping a card.  I love walking it to the mailbox or post office and dropping it into a slot from which it will take a journey I am unable to make, visiting on my behalf a home too far away for me to drop by casually in person.

Whether or not you share this love of correspondence, I encourage you to give the gift of a handwritten visit to someone who may be cheered by having your presence in a tangible sense that the computer or telephone cannot quite duplicate.  You may find, as I do, that it’s a rewarding and relaxing experience, an oasis of calm in a sea of demands and challenges.

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. I totally agree with Julia! And isn’t it lovely to be rummaging in your stuff and find some old fancy letterheads or notelets?

    • Yes, I can have such fun looking through my stationery drawers and finding forgotten treasures!

  2. Good morning, Julia! Yes, my handwriting is intimate; even I cannot unlock its secrets a few minutes after seeing it down. So, I print, too. My printing is not that much more legible than my handwriting, but at least the reader has a fighting chance of deciphering….
    I ought to pick up some of that lined paper that we learned to print and write on, and re-learn this skill.

    • Susan, I’ve thought of doing something very similar myself, with some old blank handwriting tablets I discovered in Matt’s school mementoes. I know so many people whose handwriting is beautiful enough to be a form of calligraphy. Surely it did not get that way without much practice? I have always focused more on thinking about WHAT to write than HOW to write, but it may be that handwriting practice would be calming and therapeutic, even if my everyday penmanship didn’t improve much.

  3. I found handwriting practice paper for adults on Amazon and added it to my “cart” to be purchased when i return home from Dubai.

    • I had forgotten you went to Dubai! How was it?

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