“I’ve lived on the island I was born on for 64 years.” ~ Ria in the Netherlands
“Greetings from French Polynesia!” ~ Vanessa in Tahiti
“Hi! I made this post card myself, I hope you like it!” ~ Grace in Taiwan
“I was born, and have always lived in Waltham Abbey.” ~Rachel in the United Kingdom
These are just a few of the greetings I received from perfect strangers all over the world this past month. I am a “postcrosser.” I share little bits of my hometown and myself with other people in other countries on a regular basis. It’s a hobby I was introduced to by Middle Sister Dana about three years ago.
Originally when I started postcrossing, I was in it for the homeschool value. I thought it would be a great little extra to incorporate into our world geography and social studies. For about a year we sent postcards as a family. We received over 300 messages from around the world! We sent about as many too, but as kids often do, mine lost interest. Eventually I let our account go inactive.
After another year, I found that I missed it. I’ve always loved writing letters and receiving mail. Why not do it for myself? So about two months ago I picked it back up, this time solely for my own pleasure.
As an ambivert I for sure have that side of me that loves to be around people, but often I need a break from them, too. Lately I find I need more retreat time. Even though I really don’t always want to be with folks, I find I still need ways to connect. Postcrossing has lately become one of the middle places between the two extremes for me.
Once or twice a week, I am assigned a stranger, and I share a little piece of me with them from way far away….and then I wait. I wait for a confirmation that my “message” made it to its destination. In return, a couple of times a week, I receive the same kind of exchange with entirely different strangers that were assigned to me. It’s kind of amazing.
These are just small conversations on equally small pieces of paper…a very different kind of “social media.” It’s like twitter via snail mail. Only so many characters fit on a postcard. A bit about my life…. a snippet about theirs. Something about my culture, and a little about theirs, yet I’m regularly amazed at the overlap in the ordinary places.
They come from….
A mother of three
A person of faith
A person from a small town
A person who has lost a loved one
Each one tells me just a little about those parts of their life that seem to echo parts of mine. So many people that in small ways are often just like me. It’s a small connection. It is a connection that is very short lived, but one that reminds me that I’m finite and keeps me grounded. It’s an act that reaches out and very simply says, “Hey. I want to know you exist.” It’s an unconventional way to spread a little love.
And, if I’m honest, there is that little part of me, that wants them to know I exist, too.
Do you have a hobby that connects you to others in unusual ways? We’d love to hear about it.
Note: If you’d like to know more about becoming a postcrosser check out their website here to find out more.