Two things washed ashore in New Zealand last week, making the news. One was an enormous whale. Locals and people from all over gathered to take in the magnificent being. A local tribe gave it a proper Maori burial, believing it to be an ancestor and a rare gift.
The other thing that washed ashore was a message in a bottle written seventy-six years ago.
The news of both of these things touched me in unexpected ways. The whale because of its mighty size and how we are so unaware of their existence in our daily lives until they wash ashore and make themselves known. We humans are so oblivious. And so curious. Curious like the man who put a note in a bottle, sealed it with a cork and dropped it from the side of his cruise ship in a bygone era, wanting to know if his words would ever make their way back to him.
Somewhere between the whale and the message in the bottle sums up why I want to write greeting cards. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what that connection is, but I think that’s actually kind of the point. The fact that it’s all slightly veiled and shrouded is what lends even more to the process of discovery.
Writing is about that unknown, unspoken emotion evoked in the reader. Like the woman who sits down with her coffee one morning and finds herself unexpectedly choked up reading about the whale. At the same time it’s also about the karmic connection that the man who wrote the message in the bottle initiated over seventy-six years ago with a stranger and his son somewhere far into the future. A remarkable solitary act that has involved someone else’s previous effort; a special gift given from the beyond to those of us in the here and now, something to stun us, surprise us and remind us of what and who we are. It’s exactly that unique, illuminating process that connects both writer and reader which makes practicing the art of writing so worthwhile. Writing is a mysterious craft with a destination and a final resting place, even if the writer — the sender of the message in a bottle — never comes to know that place.
Dan Weiss and Brandy Krosky, if you’re reading this, you will have received my card by now. I wrote to you because it’s not only just about a job or a passion. I believe writing (and editing because editing is writing) is more of a vocation than just an eight to five j-o-b. It’s not just about “making a living.” It’s a way to serve, inspire and transcend. The amazing thing is that while they’re great, we don’t need miracles to make that happen. All that’s needed is a passionate writer who cares and knows how to connect with her reader wherever they might be.
That and well, maybe a stamp or in this case, the World Wide Web.
Here’s to hoping this message in a bottle gets to you, wherever you are, whoever you turn out to be. I look forward to hearing back from you soon or at your earliest convenience, sometime in the next seventy-six years.