Laitues / Lettuce

Such a salad

For the letters

Dearest reader,

Tonight on this 9th of August 2019, I feel, to be honest, alone. So, I read and I registered on a website. But I think I should start with the beginning, to explain to what extent I love to write letters—and receive them.

—This article is really just a bunch of feelings written without filter and that I probably will not have the time to proof-read before publishing. And I do not even know who is going to read it.—

It all began in 2013 when I had my first penpal with whom I exchanged a few (too few) letters. Maybe it is my personality, maybe I am too naive, maybe I felt too lonely, anyway I wrote in there some things I had never told anyone before and that I would not have told my own family, because as I was once told, the closer people are to us, the more their judgment matters. Anyway these envelopes are to this day neatly tucked inside of the writing desk which was given to me by my mother (thanks mom), with others from friends I have met or online acquaintances, from boys and girls, in French or English.

I took the habit of saying, at least to myself, that receiving and writing a letter are of the greatest pleasures of existence. I know this opinion is not shared by all, that when one sends a letter, the wrist aches from hand-writing, one must move to go to the post office, pay for the stamps, but really, most importantly, wait, wait O so much time for our letter to reach its destination, that the penpal reads it, lets it rest, thinks on it, responds, sends it out, and then wait some more for the response to come back.

If there is a positive thing to say at least, which might be an unpopular opinion: I am satisfied with the French postal service, as no letter I had written or was written for me ever got lost. In this I trust.

So, as I was writing in the beginning, I read. Actually, Letters to a young poet (and other letters), by Rainer Maria Rilke (in French). In his letters, the German author writes of solitude, work, love, and how these three things are one and the same. (ISBN: 978-2-0812-5453-4 for the French version) And I just registered on a website (N’Oublie Pas d’Écrire — Nope) in order to meet someone with whom I will be able to exchange mail in France, because I have nine Astérix stamps to use, and because I want to write long monologues on the shapes of trees, how relationships with others are difficult but how equally difficult it is to be in good terms with oneself, share this phrase that was said to me one day: “It sometimes takes a lifetime to know what one wants to do with one’s life.”

But also the shape of it, practice calligraphy with black and red inks, write a draft, structure, arguments, provide examples, write poetry, aphorisms, quote some authors… as an acknowledgement that there is nothing more precious than what was done with time and heart, a search for beauty and, maybe even, wisdom.

— Quentin RIBAC.

Lettres à un jeune poète de Rainer Maria Rilke