Red Letter Daze

“Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane
I ain’t got time to take a fast train
Lonely days are gone, I’m a-goin’ home
‘Cause my baby just wrote me a letter” The Letter by the Box-Tops

“You can ruin our reputation and our life with a few well-chosen words.” Marquise de Merteuil in Les Liasons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos.
Letters, in spite of modern technology, social media, and pop cultural shifts, are still powerful means of communication. Letters can build up or discredit. Letters of recommendation can secure your ability to win that scholarship or get an interview. Love letters can intensify a connection between two people.  There are so many types of letters that differ in purpose. Letters of support . Letters of reprimand.  Dear John letters. Letters to Santa. Letters of resignation.  Letters to the editor.  Chain letters.  The list is varied as are the reasons for writing letters.  How can one to two pages of words truly capture and/or present a situation or an individual? 
I recently had to write an important letter and though I consider myself “good with words”, I found myself at a loss on what to write. As someone who spent a greater part of my career teaching young people to choose and to read words carefully and most of my life writing as an outlet, I now felt overwhelmed by my writing task. I agonized over words and phrases at first. Then I pushed forward, the printed word expressing opinions and emotions in ways I rarely do in person, as it tends to do. Nunca he logrado ser una persona sin pelos en la lengua; only through writing have I been able to truly express my thoughts fearlessly. With this particular letter, my purpose was to support someone with whom I have a great relationship. It is less challenging to write well of others when you think highly of them. If I dislike or fear someone, I may want to soften my words but why?  What do I gain by not being clear and concise? Why spare the person’s feelings if their negative behavior has prompted a negative response? 

It’s been a lifelong journey for me to learn to speak my mind openly and aloud. There are situations when I would prefer to write a letter.  Ironically, I may have an opportunity in the next week in which I will have to do both.  I will wear red that day.  

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