I have mentioned Letters of Note before. It seems to be a site I go to when the voyeur in me comes strongly to the fore and I feel the need to indulge in the things people write to each other. Letters are so special and we don't write to each other enough. The saddest part about upgrading from my old Nokia cellphone was losing those special messages from special people that were treasured and never deleted. The saddest part about having my beautiful leather bag stolen (quite a while ago) was saying goodbye to my purse in which there were many crumpled notes all of which were special to me - OK and my very special bag, a 50th birthday present from the family, as well but the letters were irreplaceable (and Cheryl in New Zealand would never remember what she wrote in the note she pressed into my hand as she left South Africa for her new life in a new country).
I have been reading one of Michael's mother's diaries which has been copied for the family. This lady kept amazing records of her life in her diaries and notes. This particular diary is over the period when her husband had been recently banned, shots had been fired through the front door of their home in Claremont and she was making plans to get to the UK for the birth of her only daughter's first child. In between the personal stuff were also records of who visited her over the Christmas period, of what gifts they bought and of what meals she prepared. At that time she also had no idea of the fact that an escape from South Africa was being planned for Theo (Michael's dad). There is definitely in book in this diary (hint, hint Janet (the first child of the only daughter)).
But I digress....back to Letters of Note. Below is a letter that John Steinbeck wrote to his son, Thom who was at boarding school. Thom had written to his father telling him that he had fallen in love with a girl called Susan. This was his father's reply:-
November 10, 1958
We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.
First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.
Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.
You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply — of course it isn’t puppy love.
But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it — and that I can tell you.
Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.
The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.
If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so — only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.
Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.
It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.
Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.
We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.
And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.
Isn't that just awesome?
Then I looked a bit deeper and found this letter which he had written to Adlai Stephenson. Quite an odd letter but so true and also showing so many wonderful values.
Wise man, John Steinbeck.