Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Now What Do I Do?

Day 365 passed, without fanfare, on Sunday.

In a year, I wrote 221 letters -- impressive in some ways, yes, but still well short of the 365 I had envisioned.

There are a couple big reasons why I didn't meet my "letter a day" goal:

1) My letters turned out to be actual "letters," not "notes." Some were as long as 8 pages, the average was probably 5. Such an undertaking just wasn't possible on some days, and it never felt right to shortchange a recipient by saying less than what was on my mind.

2) "Those days" when letter-writing went to the back burner, bubbling away in the front were things like childcare, housekeeping and my day job. I suspected from the beginning that fitting such a project into my busy schedule would be tough, and it was. But so rich were the rewards of letter-writing that I persisted even after dry spells and letters that took days to write.

So now what do I do? Write the last 144 letters, and celebrate completion of my project on maybe day 525, versus 365? Or just give up?

Who am I kidding? There is no way I'm throwing in the towel (or pen, as the case may be). "A letter a day" might have been a glorious goal, but it was also one that turned out to be just beyond my reach. That's OK, because throughout the pursuit, I've been enlightened, amused, humbled, empowered and simply reminded time and again of how terribly, terribly lucky I am -- lucky enough, indeed, to have 144 more people to thank for touching my life.

HOW DID I MISS THIS? Not that trying to finish The Letter Jar project will likely leave me much time for reading, but I still must get my hands on "Letters of the Century." This 2008 release "comprises 423 letters that are by turns intimate, bureaucratic, officious and epoch-defining ... the letters offer remarkable glimpses of various facets of American life." I can't wait to see for myself.