Live in Anticipation

One of the best things about having snail mail penpals is the anticipation created in the wait. In today's world where many things are instant or where we are "on" all the time through social media or smart phones, we don't have to wait if we don't want to.

Waiting is part and parcel of postal penpalling. You apply, get your list of penpals and diligently sit down to write introductory letters. You pop them into the mailbox.

And then you wait.

You wait for the person to get your letter. And thankfully, the wait has gotten shorter from years past. Most countries use international airlines to get letters to a foreign country. (Decades ago, international letters traveled by boat!) Once in the desired country, the letters are transported by land.

So you wait for your potential new penpal to get your letter. Then you must wait for them to respond to the letter. Some penpals write back the next day. Some respond three months after getting your letter. Then it takes time for their response to reach you.

There's something to that wait. And oh, how nice it is when the letters start rolling in! You get home from work after a longish day and there it is: a letter with a colorful, unfamiliar stamp. You peer closer. It's from Kenya!

Even before you rip into the letter (or maybe you use a civilized letter opener to keep things tidy), you are wondering about the sender. You wonder about their family. You wonder about their interests. You wonder if this relationship will become long-term.

And the anticipation doesn't end. After you get to know them, you anticipate receiving their next letter to catch up on their news because this person whom you know only through paper and ink is becoming a friend.

Keep calm and write on!