A Lost Art

I got in trouble on my first day of Kindergarten because I could write my name in cursive. Never mind that my only motivations for learning how to write my name then was that my older sister could do something I couldn’t do and “Leah” has a lot of loops in cursive that are fun to draw. I remember Ms. Hawker chastizing me for being too advanced — or really knowing how to do something without learning the foundations.

A lot has changed in the 25 years since then. And that became crystal clear to me yesterday morning as I sat down to read and take notes from Emily P. Freeman’s The Next Right Thing. Pen and notebook in hand, I jotted down the headings “Life-Draining” and “Life-Giving” to reflect on the past season of my life. Then my hand started cramping.


After four words, my hand started aching. Looking on those pages today, I see words that look like they were jotted down in a fury and not because the words were dying to come out. It’s almost as painful to look over them as it was to write them down. Even right now, I feel tired thinking about the pace I feel like I have to keep when writing things down.

Maybe I’m being dramatic, but I’m a little heartbroken at losing the art of a craft that was instrumental in getting me to where I am today. But not so heartbroken that I wrote this down by hand as a first draft. Who has time for that?

I remember spending hours practicing my handwriting and taking such pride in having beautiful penmanship. That might be why I have such a hard time now leaving scratched out words in a thank you note when I misspell something or get ahead of myself. My logic then being: If words are how we communicate, why not put them in the prettiest package?

Then typing became part of my education. First in the form of Mavis Beacon in 7th-grade technology class, then as the primary way to take notes (or send flirty Facebook messages) in college. My beautiful penmanship was cast aside for efficiency, especially since I could make my writing and assignments look any way I wanted them to thanks to a million font — and later emoji — choices.

When I got married, I felt anxious about learning how to write a new name. As it turns out, I can just draw a fancy J (not a far deviation from a loopy L) and a line with a dot over it and call it good. No one questions a thing.

So now I’m at a crossroads — do I bring back habits from a dozen years ago and perfect the art of writing? Or do I continue to give myself carpal tunnel hunched over a screen at every turn?

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