I have left my words in many places all over the world. In reality, I know that the places I have visited do not constitute a global trip – merely a few thousand miles – but its further that some places that other people have gone. I’ve written on laptops in airports, on buses, sat with a notebook in a hostel in Berlin when I could not sleep; what else do you do after a 9 hour flight and it’s 4 a.m. and the day has “started? (Answer: Eat amazing cheesecake, but that’s another story for another time.)
I’ve written down my phone number and website for complete strangers, I’ve sent texts across the ether to people I think I’d like to meet for a drink but don’t because they suddenly seem insane, I’ve asked friends to meet up, tried to leave my email address on mailing lists in intriguing stores, hoping for a discount and the ability, eventually, to purchase coveted goods. And I’ve recently taken out a pen and covered pages of whatever spare journal I could find to write letters that will never be sent.
Some say there is catharsis in writing to someone, even though they will never see the words – the act of physically bringing thoughts, ideas, feelings, and fears into being enables them to be exorcised from the body and, perhaps, the soul. That is, if the soul does exist. A collection of electrical impulses, pathways, neurons firing and something indescribable is more how I’d put it; you can sense another’s energy, your own energy, even though it’s not physically tangible.
Words are not tangible either. When they move through the air they turn into near-invisible sound waves and are intercepted and interpreted by the listener, which always has the potential for confusion, unless you manage to discern that it is no longer important how someone else reacts because that is their responsibility. When they become tangible, tactile, you can pick them up on a piece of paper, throw them away, burn them, or send them to their intended recipient. My letters are not illicit, wrong, or offensive. They tell the truth as I see it, and they birth thoughts and ideas into the world that I had never imagined I was growing. Yet they should not live – it is not their destiny to continue on some meaningless journey. I created them, I will not destroy them. They are now ghosts of conversations never had, an understanding never reached, and a personal truth finally achieved via the act of telling a story that only I am allowed to read.