Here’s what I love the most about the work I do: I get to be part of your stories.
Years from now, when time has sanded away memories, as it does, you might invite your daughter or or your niece or maybe your grandchildren to open a box filled with your mementos from all the years. Things you kept because they marked a moment that meant something to you. A theatre ticket, a napkin with ‘I love you’ written on it (only you know who and when and why). A sprig of dried rosemary (‘That’s for remembrance,’ Shakespeare wrote). A bit of ribbon. A boarding pass. A leather-bound journal filled with quotes and sketches.
And tucked away among them all, a wedding invitation (what a day it was). Or a menu from that holiday party in 2015, the one where your guests got snowed in and had to camp out at your place overnight (prepare yourself). And there on the age-softened paper in the hands of someone you love, a flourish of script that – while it may be worded any number of ways – says, “This was important. This day was really something.”
And, so, that memory lives on.
That’s why I love what I do. That’s what makes up for the moments when the pen nib catches on paper and splatters ink across what was perfect work so far. That’s what keeps me practicing and experimenting and holding my work to a high standard. To make something beautiful and to pass it on. And on.
Maybe it sounds greedy, and so maybe it is. They’re your stories, not mine. But here’s the thing: I take a lot of joy from knowing that someone halfway across the country will open her mailbox and find something special inside, an envelope that’s not a bill or an advertisement or a letter from the mortgage company. I like imagining that she will hold that envelope with care, that she will stop in the middle of her day to see something beautiful, and that she will know that someone (you) thought enough of her to take the steps that would put that envelope into her hands.
The envelope that I got to decorate in a favorite script. The style with the M that is so fun to write. The one that lets me make the H with the swirl. And then there’s the white ink on a colored envelope and, well, that’s my favorite, too.
And in that moment, your story, her story, and my story are all woven together. Three people connected by one small, lovely, nearly weightless thing.
And suddenly, if you think of it that way, it’s not so small anymore. Now it’s weighted with time and care and love and the social graces that tether us to the best parts of ourselves.
Some time ago, I wrote three words on a piece of paper. “See what’s beautiful.” Turns out, there’s lots to see, and that simple mantra guides my calligraphy work and makes a path for me through my days. I think of it as a reminder and an invitation. A talisman.
One that I am happy to share with you (that’s how these things work). Carry it with you (it’s portable). Once you get used to the feeling of having it in your pocket, you won’t want to be without it. (It has staying power, this one.)
Make confetti of it, even. Share it. Pass it on. Three words.
See what’s beautiful.