Blessed are those who still receive greeting cards
Recently I’ve downloaded Snapchat and honestly, I love it! The only problem with it is my limited network of friends that I can ‘snap’ at. Right now I can count up to ten friends, out of which three are active. Not impressive, my social media junkies-friends are thinking…but none of us had +1000 friends on Facebook over a fortnight! But what makes Snapchat so appealing is this — real time, private and snaps are deleted once your recipients see them. Now that’s a pretty cool feature for the current over-sharing internet age!
Having said that, I wonder how much of our lives will or will not be recorded through social media. And what is it that we would like to keep a record of? What do we want to keep offline?
On the third day after I had arrived to Prague, I braced myself to dive into all the junk that I had pilled in my mother’s house over the last 10 years of living overseas. As you perhaps have guessed, I shamelessly used my old room as the storage room of infinite size and dumped pretty much everything that I had acquired in one city and could not fit in the next destination. As I began sorting through the stuff, it felt like traveling back in time to the places I used to live in and remembering people that I’ve long forgotten…
Then I found THAT box. It is the box where I’ve kept all the greeting cards ever received since the day I’d left Prague for the world. Reading through each card filled with words of kindness, I realised how extremely blessed I was, having made such wonderful friends and colleagues around the world — from University, to work in London, to language classes in Beijing, to business school in Paris, to exchange programs in USA and Germany, and to Singapore.
You see, the thing about greeting cards is that you can truly personalise them — from the message, to the looks and even to reflect the personality of the sender. The more scribbles, the more drawings and the more illegible handwriting, the more I enjoyed them! I believe behind every greeting card, there’s always a powerful intent. It’s this intent that cannot be conveyed easily through Facebook messages or even emails. It’s this intent that I wish to keep receiving greeting cards and store them for the decades to come! *hint hint*
Here below are extracts from some of my personal favourites. I hope they inspire you to send some greeting cards to your loved ones!
From a Chinese-Mauritian friend (November 2008)
(…) 5 qualities to describe Hai Anh
An Nian rocks!
Private note: Thank you for bringing so much positivity into my life. I absolutely adore the way you misspelled my name!
From a Chinese-Italian friend and flatmate (November 2009)
(…) I miss you reminding me to sign up for seminars, register for career fair, apply for events…I miss mights of long long talks, clubbing, Tesco trips…
I guess we all have to grow up at some point. We leave the places we’re used to. We leave those people we were so close to and we move on, head off to different directions. Some people we’ll never see again. Some others remain friends for life. You don’t always see them but you know they are always there, just like stars. I’m one of them :-P, will always be there for you, wherever you’ll be, whatever you choose in life. (…)
Private note: Thank you for your friendship. Those years would have never been the same without you. I miss you so much it hurts me that China banned Facebook!
From a Vietnamese friend (November 2008)
Happy Birthday to one of the future world leaders.
Private note: Thank you for the inspiration. You’ve always been a leader of few words. But the greatest leaders don’t talk, they act.
From a Singaporean friend (January 2010)
- Cold water — drink it, wash your face with it, and (best of all) splash it onto the pulse area of your wrist (really works for me)
- Sugar free peppermint gum
- Pull down on your earlobes
- Don’t slouch! Sit up straight.
- Take eye breaks — look far into the distance for 20–30 seconds.
- Go outdoors during breaks and take short, brisk walks
- Do 10 push ups!!
I know this exams means a lot to you and you’ve worked really hard for this. Hard work never goes unrewarded, so all you have to do is give your best on Monday. No fear! Have FAITH!!!
Private note: Thank you for showing me perseverance. I only made it through that year with your support and encouragement.
From a French friend (July 2010)
(…)I wish you the happiest moments in Paris (…). Open your eyes, watch and learn, try to distinguish the truth from the lie, now you entered the not-so-nice-people’s universe.
Get lost in the neighbourhoods, find incredible squares and buildings that are often neglected by tourists and Paris people. They will give it back to you and take you from one astonishment to another.
Private note: Thank you for all the moments we seized together. Carpe diem! is the greatest gift you’ve ever given me.
From a Swedish friend (November 2007)
(…) Many people consider 21 to be a threshold into adulthood. As someone who has experienced a year in the position, I confess that I didn’t feel any change overnight, and I think change has more to do with circumstance than with symbolism anyway. Yet, both your outside and your inside will be changing constantly, and sometimes events like a birthday can act like a catalyst! If you have changed abruptly and unexpectedly, I hope that when you woke up this morning you noticed the change in the shape of a newfound sense of hope and purpose just waiting to burst out into reality through your actions henceforth. And if you woke up feeling completely normal, don’t worry, because that’s how most people wake up! (…)
Private note: Thank you for the courage to embrace the future and to be true to my heart. Always.