News

A Reflection on the Lost Romance of Handwritten Letters in the Digital Age

  In the bottom drawer of the bookcase, I unexpectedly found several diaries and stacks of letters. The pages are yellowed, but the handwriting is still neatly arranged and the face is beautiful. Sitting on the ground and opening those letters, it was like stepping into another time and space.
  The last time in my memory I held a pen and wrote a letter with a respectful attitude – the letter paper had beautiful patterns and a slight fragrance. It was on a moonlit night when I was in my junior year of college. The clear light shines through, and the tip of the pen is also shining. It was already early in the morning when I finished writing. The moonlight was faint and thin, and the tip of the pen was almost exhausted.
  After that, communicating with friends was, for a time, by tapping on a computer keyboard. After using several mailboxes, I forgot my account number and password one after another, and the letters I exchanged immediately fell into the abyss of the Internet, fearing that they would have become digital garbage and been cleaned up. Nowadays, emails are only used to deal with work matters. The typed words are all sharp and simple, which is unique to official business. You can use one word and never waste another word. The punctuation appears in one piece, and occasionally even the limbs are missing.
  Later, WeChat appeared. At first it was like a silent phantom, but later it took on the aura of an ice and snow storm. It was almost pervasive and omnipresent, sweeping all the original order into a chaotic mess, leaving people everywhere. Dodge, life begins to become blurred, it seems that you are being teased by all kinds of information at any time, and you need to make various responses at any time. Every message is there maliciously counting seconds. It seems that there is no distance anymore, but this frequency and randomness make the signal void, like a flashing red dot in the blur, thinning or even smoothing out the kind and deep connection.
  What a shame that handwritten letters are dying out. “The swallows have gone, but they will come again; the willows have withered, but they will be green again; the peach blossoms have withered, but they will bloom again.” The handwritten letter, together with the solemnity and charm when writing it, seems to have gone forever. . Moreover, time has erased many old moments and brought out a lot of new faces. Many of the friends I had when I was young gradually lost contact and forgot each other. Everyone is rushing towards their respective annual rings, life is spreading forward in full swing, and free time is luxurious. In the process of tossing and turning, each other has changed beyond recognition, and it is no longer possible for them to return to the old times. Even if we meet in person, it is not easy to start a topic that both parties are comfortable with; what makes people blush is not necessarily the result of drinking too much, but it may also be the result of endless arguments about their respective positions.
  At this moment, when I open the old letter, the young man’s observations, thoughts, passion, dreams, loss, melancholy, love and failure to love are all still lush in the letter, which is the scene of midsummer. They moved with me several times and are still there, well-kept. No matter how I travel, they are part of my luggage, and they are always with me, even though I rarely open them again. They are the amber of time, shining with friendship and innocence, still shining brightly.
  The expression of the letter is kind and clear. The writer stops, looks at his own soul, and listens to it whispering the hidden secrets; or he stops to look at any small corner of the world and discovers its subtle folds. There are also endless surprises. Narratives and descriptions in letters are always full of emotions. “Sincerely, say one sentence, one sentence.” Every punctuation used has been carefully considered, with small considerations and emotions – how much meaning is there in a letter? profound?
  On a spring day, there were “clouds with mist and misty rain”. Tao Yuanming sat quietly in the East Pavilion, drinking new wine alone, and saw “the trees in the East Garden, their branches carrying glory”, and there were even more graceful birds perching on the branches, “collecting their feathers and stopping leisurely. “Good harmony”, they are happy and loving each other, but they can’t help but feel melancholy. He also prayed for the friendship of the same voice and the same breath. In this spring time, he could exchange wine with his friends, so as to live up to this large piece of natural scenery. So I wrote the poem “Standing Clouds” to send to my close friends to express my wish to “have a safe dinner and talk about his life”. I sincerely knew that it was impossible to get it, so I sighed with regret: “The fresh wine is fresh, and the garden is in its first glory. I wish I could not obey my words.” , sighing.”
  Bai Juyi also prepared wine and invited friends to talk. At dusk in winter, the red clouds are brewing with the feeling of snow, and the newly fermented wine is warming on the newly made red clay stove. In the warmth of being slightly tipsy, Bai Juyi wrote a letter to call out to his friends, which ended up in a poem: “Green ants newly fermented wine, small red clay stove. It’s snowing in the evening, can you drink a glass of nothing?” Who can refuse such a thing? What about a sincere and poetic invitation? Liu Shijiu must have braved the falling snow and went there happily. The letter written by Bai Juyi to Yuan Zhen is full of vast time and deep nostalgia after many years of separation. The emotion is touching: “It’s so small! It’s been three years since I last saw you, and I can’t even stop writing.” Two years have passed, how long has it been in life, and how far apart has it been? How about putting a gluey heart on Hu Yue’s body, unable to meet each other when advancing, unable to forget each other when retreating, separated by each other, and each wants to grow old. How about the slightest thing? How!…”
  This kind of enthusiasm that is not hidden or modified, I also received it in a friend’s letter more than ten years ago. A female classmate whom I haven’t seen since graduating from high school sent me a letter from a foreign country. We were in high school at that time, and our correspondence was light. Six years after graduation, I received a letter from her, and the warm feelings were released in the letter. I was surprised. In the confusion of life at that time, I was even more inspired and inspired by this letter. . Our separation has become a long separation, and it will become longer and longer. Sometimes we feel that we are already strangers to each other. But as soon as I opened the letter, the intimacy and love still had the original warmth, still shone with the light of that time, and still released the kindness and sincerity of the world.
  Of course, there are also some letters that are not unrestrained. Wu Jun wrote a letter to his friend Zhu Yuansi. He expressed his inner feelings and only talked about the landscape. “The wind and smoke are all pure, and the Tianshan Mountains are the same color. You can drift along the current, and you can do whatever you want. A hundred miles from Fuyang to Tonglu, there are strange mountains and rivers, unique in the world. …Those who fly with kites in the sky, look at the peaks to rest their hearts, and understand the world. Those who work hard will forget to rebel when they look into the valley.” The words reflect the heart, and the scenery of the soul continues to stretch along the way. Imagine how the paper of this letter must be filled with clouds of smoke! The artistic conception of Wang Wei’s “A Book with the Scholar Pei Di in the Mountains” is not inferior to that of his five-character poem. He told his friends about the life in the mountains, which was beautiful and kind, and finally issued an invitation: “When spring comes, the grass and trees will grow, spring mountains can be seen, light minnows emerge from the water, white gulls spread their wings, Qinggao is wet with dew, and the wheat dragons approach the mountains. Not far away, what if you can swim from me? How can you invite someone who is not a master of heaven and earth with this unhurried task? But there is a deep interest in it! There is no surprise.” The calmness and ease of writing does not mean that there is no expectation. He just diluted his enthusiasm, flattened his expectations, and blended them into the spring scenery. Every word is sincere and sincere, and you can’t help but feel yearning when reading it.
  This is the romance of literati and the romance of letters. Thousands of mountains and rivers cannot stop it. What kind of love and thoughts does it feel to send a plum blossom from the south of the Yangtze River to Chang’an? Along with this plum blossom, there was also a letter written solemnly by Lu Kai to his friend Fan Ye: “Fold the flowers to meet the messenger, and send them to the Longtou people. If you have nothing in the south of the Yangtze River, just give me a branch of spring.” The slowness of the past, the past of I wonder if children can still understand these elegant interests?
  When a child recites “Spring Hope”, it is like reciting a jingle with an olive in his mouth. He only hears a few grunts in his mouth, and then he has finished reciting it. I wonder if you can understand one ten thousandth of the mood of the sentence “The flames of war last for three months, and a letter from home is worth ten thousand pieces of gold”? They already lack physical experience with many nouns and verbs in the poem, and it is even harder to say they can empathize with them. They may have seen the “fire of war” in various videos, but they have never seen it, let alone sent or received a letter stained with ink and stained with various smells from many places.
  Many years ago, when my eldest daughter graduated from kindergarten, I suddenly came up with the idea of ​​writing a letter to her to express my blessings and instructions to her. However, it was obvious that she would have to wait another two years until she knew enough words before she could actually read it. letter. But in the past two years, that relic-like letter has been missing. We middle-aged people who occasionally correct our minds and respectfully write a letter by hand are just a gesture of retention and a slightly reluctant salute to the “slow” time of the “beautiful and stylish” era of writing culture. In the lives children will enter, handwritten letters may have become a “cultural heritage”. One form has died, but the mutual affection between people is worth cherishing at any time and passed on in more forms.