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photo by Mary Lynn Richard


cor·re·spond·ence /ˌkôrəˈspändəns/  n.  1. a close similarity, connection, or equivalence. 2.  communication by exchanging letters with someone.


Note: I wrote this post on May 22, 2012 . I set it aside, thinking I would add to it and neglected it it for awhile. Posting it now, in its May form. If you don’t know of The Rumpus or Letters in the Mail, you should check both out (links below)!


What is it about letter writing that allows for such closeness and intimacy?

Last year, The Rumpus started a “Letters in the Mail” program, wherein authors would scribe letters and The Rumpus would send them to subscribers through the mail. I signed up immediately.

And then this past April, they invited subscribers to participate in “Letters to Each Other,” where subscribers would send in a letter (no more than one page, front and back) with a SASE envelope. Then their letters would be sent to six people and they would receive six letters in return.

I received my letter last Thursday, and I cannot tell you how exciting it was to open my mailbox and find that thick envelope.

I think what I love most about letters is their real vulnerability. Letters are not theoretical, they are meant to be a container for one’s thoughts and ideas, a place for truth to be relayed. Even letters between artists that involve philosophy and intellectual spiralings typically also involve a moment of doubt. These are not set in stone, they are inked on paper. In that way they are ephemeral. They are meant to be recordings of a moment. I love this too, their in-the-momentness, their sheerness, their see-through nature.

I wrote my first reply today, and what I was amazed at was not only my ability to but my desire to share intimate details of my life with someone who is an almost complete stranger. Is it the anonymity? Maybe that’s part of it, but we do know each others’ names, at least she will have mine now. I think it is also because she shared intimate details with me, ones that although differing from my experience, I could relate to, and I valued so much that emotional honesty.

Letters are drawings of our names in the sand. They reveal who we are in this precise time of being, a being that is unstable, a self that will change. They are a place that, beyond beautiful prose or constructed narrative or clarity of thought or firm declarations, simply demand honest reflection and an attempt at connection. And we all have the ability to offer that. And isn’t that at the end of the day what we most need from one another? what we most need to offer of ourselves?

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rhyth·mist  (ˈrith-mist)  n. A master of rhythmical composition; also, one versed in rhythmics.

(from Webster Comprehensive Dictionary: International Edition, Lobate through Z)

“Get rhythm when you get the blues/ Get rhythm when you get the blues/ Yes a jumpy rhythm makes you feel so fine/It’ll shake all the trouble from your mind/Get rhythm when you get the blues.” –Johnny Cash


Lately, I’ve had a case of the doldrums. This usually happens to me in summer. I think that we make summer the time of happiness. Get a tan. Go on vacation. Read mindless books. Enjoy yourself. So if you aren’t feeling happy all the time, there is something wrong with you because, come on, it’s summer.

Especially in the past four years while I have been studying and working on the academic calendar, summer is a sort of pause in the rhythm of my life. It is a time for reflection and detoxification and detoxifying requires bringing all the toxins to the surface, where they are visible. This can be a difficult process.

I’ve been thinking lately about what I am in this life and what I am meant to be. I know, easy questions. And I’ve also been thinking about Lucinda Williams’ song “Born to be loved.” In it, she cites all the things you are not born to be: “to be abused,” “to lose,” “to be abandoned,” “to be forsaken,” “to be mistreated,” “to be misguided.” What you are born to be at the end of each refrain is loved. You were born to be loved.

Lately, in my mindfulness meditation, I’ve been practicing metta, or loving-kindness, for myself and one of the things I’ve been saying to myself is “May I be love. May I be loved.” Isn’t it amazing that only one letter is different in these two intentions? When I say them aloud, if I do so quickly, you may not even hear the difference. Perhaps it is because they are so closely intertwined, the ability to love others and one’s receptivity to love. Recently, Stephen Elliot in his daily email piece for The Rumpus quoted someone’s interpretation of the human question as being not: “Am I loveable?” but “Am I capable of love?” For it is in our capacity to offer love, which we are all born with even if we have to work at it in our lives, that we are able to be loved. My mindfulness teacher has me offering metta to myself because he knows that only in offering acceptance and love to myself am I really able to offer these to others.

So, a few pulses I have been considering, a few rhythms repeating in my mind these days. Hope yours are steady and continuous and raw and new.

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