Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Power of Pen & Postcard

Even the shortest message can mean the most
It's been awhile since I've traveled out of the country, but there are some experiences you don't ever forget: overlooking the ancient ruins of a Roman city, standing at the entrance to a cathedral so tall it hurts to crane your neck back, smelling the salt off the waters of an ocean during winter. These moments of adventure and feelings of awe are ones we can't wait to share with others and fortunately there are numerous ways to do so. 

With all the technology nowadays, sending a postcard might seem archaic, but there is much more to this 4 x 6, envelope-free card than might appear.I don't know about you, but I find that it's the smallest gestures which leave the biggest impact. The same idea applies to sending and receiving postcards. It may be a message for all the world to see, but the words on a postcard can capture the true essence of travel.

I've always loved postcards, collecting them from every place I travel to, framing my favorites and hanging them on my walls. Even better is when I receive them from friends and family on their own adventures. Such was the case today when a postcard showed up on my doorstep from a friend overseas. It never fails to amaze me how much the atmosphere of place can be captured by a few simple lines of 'wish you were here' or 'it was warmer than expected today.' 

I might not be in that particular place myself, but the scribbled lines, overlaid by international postage stamps, have a way of transporting me to where my friend took the time to pause, the sun beating down and a mix of foreign languages in the background--and think of me, if only for a moment, thousands of miles away.

In a way, postcards hark back to a time when exchanging handwritten notes and letters were considered some of the most intimate gestures

Sure, this isn't the 19th century but there is still something direct and personal that postcards allow a person to share with another. In our age of digital technology, it's easy to send a quick email or tweet or Facebook update about where and when you are--but sending a personalized message on a postcard can bring a smile to a person's face and brighten the day in a way that digital technology will never master.

Whether you run your fingers across the handwriting, across a corner that was bent over time or even just look at the image on the card, there is a story behind every detail. Why that image? Why from that specific place? A postcard might only provide a limited amount of writing space, but when you account for everything that goes into it, there's no mistaking it for anything but a treasure. 

Isn't this the same case when it comes to travel? No matter how small, how insignificant an experience might seem, there is always something to be grateful for. We have to remember to appreciate these moments, as they can pass quickly, leaving nothing tangible behind. 

There won't always be ruins to stand in front of or time to breathe in that salty ocean air, so take advantage while you can. Just like a good postcard, the memories will continue tell a story all on their own.