Last night as I travelled to Hamilton I was listening to CBC. (Nice to hear intelligent radio but that is for another blog). There was an interview with the Governor General of Canada, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, about his new book, The Idea of Canada: Letters to a Nation.
Listening to him talk about writing letters every day made envious. I journal almost every day but the idea of writing to people every day captivates me. I’m not sure I could make the time or afford the postage right now but it is an amazing idea. Something I can certainly take time for when I retire (at 93).
Johnston’s book, which I will be looking for, is a collection of his letters to people in our nation. It apparently begins with a letter to a young Inuit boy and also includes letters to movers and shakers who are living and dead. Some on the list are former governors general, teachers, Chris Hadfield and Clara Hughes. Some are people most of us have never heard of.
The origninal letters were hand written, which is his preference. He says it makes him slow down and think. As a lawyer he is used to dictating letters but he thinks the old fashioned cursive style is a better way to express yourself. (He didn’t mention that the next generation won’t be able to read them.)
I tend to agree. I wrote a piece a while back about the old fashioned thank you notes and I’ve mentioned writing letters to family for special occassions they might celebrate when you are gone but the GG’s practice adds some depth to the idea.
As he spoke I was thinking about letters I could write to my parents and grandparents or even further back than that. There are things I would like to thank them for and things I would like to share with them about my life and the world around me. I might even have some apologies to write to a few of them.
His letters are broken into three categories,“What Shapes Me”, “What Consumes Me” and “What Inspires Me”. I wonder what I might write in those categories.
“What Shsapes Me” letters would have to be letters to my Grandmother and my Mother as well as letters to my high school English teachers and the Algonquin College President who listened to my demands for students on college committees and gave me the President’s Medal for my efforts. My life long inspiration, my children would have to be on that list as well.
In the “What Consumes Me” category there would be letters to the Mental Health Commission of Canada about things that need to change and perhaps letters to local politicians about their inattention to housing issues. Some letters might be to people who don’t see the importance of social justice. Others would be to those who suffer at the hand of a society which is unjust and corrupt. One would certainly be to my son who died by suicide almost 16 years ago about what I’ve tried to do so others don’t suffer the same fate.
“What Inspires Me” letters would include two bosses I’ve had who believed in me and encouraged me more than anyone else in my life. The first was my first Editor, George Anderson, who allowed me to experiment with my writing style and encouraged my political hunger. The other is Chrstine Szymezko, my mentor and friend in Mental Health Peer Support. I followed her around like a puppy for two years soaking up her knowledge and wisdom about mental health issues. She lit a fire in me that will not go out. Yet another would go to Annalise Carr, a young woman in my area who swam Lake Ontario and Lake Erie to raise money for a camp for kids with cancer. I would also write to Princess Dianna and to my Granddaughter, Hope, who inspires me every day and who gave me “hope” when I didn’t have any.
If you were going to write a letter every day to someone who would you write to? Just pick one and give it a try. Write one wrong, thank one unsung hero, thank a role model.