Everyone Needs a Little Love
This week we feel inspired by The Note Swap to give our fellow humans — strangers or not — a little love. Sometimes it’s the anonymous gesture that means the most. Whether or not a note is meant for us specifically, the personal nature of a letter has the power to move, change, and inspire us.
In this spirit, we want to share with you some great online archives of anonymous notes, letters meant for others (which in turn, can mean something to us too), found photos, and other relics that have been shared, and in this sense, repurposed in order to inspire others.
PostSecret is one of the best-known community art projects (though it started as a simple blog), and is premised on the idea of sharing anonymous postcards with the secrets on them. The site reads:
PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.
The project may have earned its following (currently the largest ad-free blog in the world!) in part because of the human voyeuristic impulse it indulges. However, we think the strength of these anonymous shared postcards is in their ability to touch others’ lives with their sincerity and emotion, and in the ability of the project to grant anyone permission to express themselves to others, without fear.
Here’s a smattering of recent posts that touched our hearts:
#2: Letters of Note
From the website:
Letters of Note is an attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos. Scans/photos where possible. Fakes will be sneered at. Updated as often as possible; usually each weekday.
While these notes weren’t intended for us specifically, they’re still somehow incredibly inspiring. Here’s as especially spirited one that we liked, from last month, that anyone who’s ever wanted a raise can relate to:
The great Al Hirschfeld had been supplying his much-loved caricatures to theNew York Times for 37 years when, in 1962, tipped over the edge by the newspaper’s accounting department, he sent the following amusing letter to the Sunday editor, Lester Markel.
His request for a raise was granted.
(Source: The Paper’s Papers: A Reporter’s Journeys Through the Archives of The New York Times; Image above: Al Hirschfeld in his studio, 1999, via.)
#3: Lists of Note
From the website:
Lists are created for all manner of reasons, and have been for many centuries. It’s my aim to feature some of the most notable examples right here.
Here’s one that rings with the free-spirited nature of its author. While its advice tailored towards prose writers and was written to someone else, we think it can easily inspire anyone setting out on a creative endeavor:
In 1958, Jack Kerouac wrote a letter to Don Allen. In closing, he included a 30-point list of “essentials” that he titled “Belief and Technique for Modern Prose.” It read as follows.
(Source: Heaven and Other Poems; Image: Kerouac, courtesy of Beat is Back.)
- Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
- Submissive to everything, open, listening
- Try never get drunk outside yr own house
- Be in love with yr life
- Something that you feel will find its own form
- Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
- Blow as deep as you want to blow
- Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
- The unspeakable visions of the individual
- No time for poetry but exactly what is
- Visionary tics shivering in the chest
- In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
- Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
- Like Proust be an old teahead of time
- Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
- The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
- Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
- Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
- Accept loss forever
- Believe in the holy contour of life
- Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
- Don’t think of words when you stop but to see picture better
- Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
- No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
- Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
- Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
- In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
- Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
- You’re a Genius all the time
- Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in HeavenAs ever,
#4: Found Magazine
From the “ABOUT” section on this site:
We collect found stuff: love letters, birthday cards, kids’ homework, to-do lists, ticket stubs, poetry on napkins, doodles– anything that gives a glimpse into someone else’s life. Anything goes.
We certainly didn’t invent the idea of found stuff being cool. Every time we visit our friends in other towns, someone’s always got some kind of unbelievable discovered note or photo on their fridge. We decided to make a bunch of projects so that everyone can check out all the strange, hilarious and heartbreaking things people have picked up and passed our way.
Here are some recent gems they’ve posted:
FOUND by Kelly in Princeton, Indiana. Found this inside a book I bought at the thrift store.
FOUND by Shannon in Nephi, Utah
Found this in a novelty restaurant, the kind where you order using a phone. At our booth was a small notebook, I imagine to write your order down before “calling.” Most of the pages were scrawled down choices from the menu, but on one page, was this.
FOUND by Ken and Jes in Texas. We found this on the street during a dog walk.
FOUND by Laura in Seattle, Washington
This While You Were Out message was found in a Seattle library book titled Anybody Can Do Anything by Betty MacDonald in October, 2011.
A simple Google search led me to this group Flickr album called “Found Love Letters.” They are as you can imagine: full of emotion for someone unknown. Somehow this fact makes them all the more haunting, and ultimately, relatable. Here’s one posted by THE GENERATIONS PROJECT:
#6: And last but not least:
Trade handwritten notes across the globe
The Note Swap is a worldwide exchange of handwritten letters, contributed by a thousand creative people just like you. Join our community to swap surprises in the mail and take part in an experiment designed to make a stranger’s day. Scribble down a love note, a short story, a recipe, a memory, a joke or a secret — your letter could take any form. Simply mail your note to us along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. We’ll make the swap and send you another participant’s letter in return. Waiting for the mail can be the best part of your day…