National Handwriting Day

Few things in the world can represent a person without them needing to be present. Handwriting elevates words to an intimate form, traveling distances within tight lines, pushing the boundaries of page and pen. It is an unappreciated art that is daily in danger of being lost to keyboards and touch screens.

Even the chicken scratch, the side-slanting, the hard to read and down right illegible are worthy — simply because only you could write that way. Such writing gives us comedic misreads, the original typo in the form of smushed cursive swoops.

Handwriting can be analyzed to pinpoint bizarrely specific personality attributes of the writer. It has solved crimes, answered mysteries, and conveyed historic tales.

It may seem like a silly holiday, but it allows us to celebrate something that we rarely pay attention to. I probably notice it more than most. I still write and receive handwritten letters or postcards. I own more journals than days in a week. I have intentionally experimented with my own handwriting by testing out different forms of the letters r, w, a, t, d, and y. I remember trying to copy my mom’s grocery lists exactly.

But even still, I take it for granted.

To celebrate, I first wrote this post by hand in my journal, alongside one of my favorite quotes on writing:
"Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a sot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again." - Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a sot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again.” – Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

It is a seemingly small privilege: to sign our names, claim our unique handwriting, or write ourselves into the world around us. This is one of the ways we participate in the absurdity of being human. This is something worth celebrating.

Do yourself a favor — write something today and pay attention to your curves and edges, the swoops and dots. Feel the pen in your hand, think about who might see this writing one day and remember you. Because only you write the way you do.


To see more quotes in some of the best handwriting I’ve ever seen – look up my friend Helen’s work at: https://www.facebook.com/lightandpine and http://instagram.com/lightandpine . Trust me.
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