A few days ago I read Ashima’s post on how the Wednesday meditation group in Vadodara wrote letters to strangers, inspired by a movement started by a girl in New York in August 2011. What a lovely gesture! I thought I’d do it sometime, since I love writing letters and there aren’t too many people to write to and it seemed like a fun experiment. Surprising I dropped everything else and got down to it immediately. If you know me, you would know what a big deal that is! I got out my favorite orange pen, paper that was ruled on one side and blank on the other, quickly drew out an abstract sketch (which I like to believe represents warmth and happiness) and then came the hard part… What do you say to someone when you don’t know who they are – age, background, state of mind even? It was quite a puzzler. The website on the movement did give a few ideas, but I still couldn’t make up my mind on how to write something that could be ‘universally appealing’.
But then I put pen to paper and the words just came, I let them flow. It was a new experience for me; although I like writing my letters are usually a mix of free flowing and careful thought, a first draft precedes the final one. But not this letter, this was a one-shot thing. Whilst writing it occurred to me the whole point of it was to acknowledge that despite our differences, love is a universal language, and we could all do with a small dose of it tucked away in an envelope, no strings attached.
I told this stranger how it was my first time doing something like this, and how it felt weird but awesome at the same time. I told them a little about myself and tried to reassure them to have faith in the universe, just like I’m trying to do. I also encouraged them to pay it forward if they felt moved to. Turns out I had a lot to say to a stranger!
Next I bought the envelope, wrote a large ‘Pick me up’ on it, and scratched my head with a new puzzle: where should I put it? A lot of things crossed my mind: a place where it was easily noticeable, where it wouldn’t get damaged, where the recipient would be someone who’d appreciate it. Lot of thought for a random act of kindness, I know, but this letter was my labour of love, I wasn’t going to leave it just about anywhere!
The auto-rickshaw was my first choice, but I decided against it when I realized the letter might slip into the gap of the seat and lie there without anyone ever discovering it. When I met a friend for coffee at the mall I considered leaving it there but it was late and we were the last to leave, it might have gotten thrown out during the cleaning routine. So a whole day went by with a letter in an envelope and nowhere to post it.
But the next day I went out for coffee at a reasonable hour to a place where it seemed like someone would be likely to pick up a letter they found, and I simply left it there. Quietly slid it out of my diary whilst we were exiting, put it down on the table and walked away quickly before anyone could see what I was doing. I was nervous as hell and excited all at the same time.
And now there’s this odd sense of mystery… I’ll never know who found it or what they thought of it. Did they think it was totally random and crazy? Did they appreciate it? Will they pay it forward? Did it brighten their day? I’d like to believe it did. And I think I will write some more, soon…