A Letter from the Other Side of the World

Last night, I found a letter that I wrote to myself six months ago, intended to be read in May.

It was Rosy Carrick’s show Passionate Machine that got me thinking about the power of writing to my future self. In November, I was on the verge of a big life change, and wanted a reminder to myself about why I was making this change. I didn’t want to forget my plans for the future.

I’m fascinated by how that the postal system feels like time travel. The writer and the recipient are always separated, and every letter is read in the future. And that delay of the postal system represents an opening out of chance, because so much can change between the time the letter is sent and when it arrives. We might write “I hope this letter finds you well…“, but there is no guarantee that the receipient will ever get the message.

My favourite writing by Jacques Derrida looks at how the delays postal system are representative of an inherent delay in all communication. I cannot really write a letter to myself because those two selves are different, having experiences they do not share: a letter from my past selve becomes a letter to my future self. The future might be more different than I expected

Part of me wants to leave this envelope unopened. It’s an artefact from a place that’s gone, the letter a relic from the old world, where making plans still made sense. The letter feels more hopeful if it’s left unread for a while.

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