A few weeks ago I had an appointment with my Doctor and at the end of the consultation, she tried to print out some advice for me. Unfortunately, the printer decided not to work for whatever reason so she simply took a piece of blank paper and wrote out the advice. She handed over the paper and then commented on how startled I looked. “Was the advice too complicated?” she asked. “No,” I said “What beautiful handwriting you have for a Doctor!” I exclaimed. “Well, that was training from elementary school” she continued.
It was then I recalled her taking a rather exquisite pen from her table and also wafting the piece of paper around before she handed it over to me. “At school – she said-, once we knew the basics of writing by 9 or 10 years old we had extra Calligraphy classes and I suppose I’ve continued with it ever since.” What a lovely skill to have I thought.
In this day and age when Mobile telephones are so prevalent in our lives and texting is the norm, it seems that there’s going to be a generation of people who may start to forget how to write. Nowadays we receive a text and answer it in a few seconds without really having to think. We use emojis and abbreviations spellchecks and then press send. Instead, writing a letter or using calligraphy forces us to think a little bit harder about what we want to say becoming more accurate in expressing ourselves.
Obviously, going to a Calligraphy class may be difficult in this current climate, but doing some research on the internet has revealed some very interesting and helpful tutorials. Of course, this is not the same but it does give you some good advice on how to start, what types of pens and paper to buy, and even how to use blotting paper.
Calligraphy is also a great topic to start a conversation with and a skill you can learn or develop with your children. Once confident in their basic writing technique, you and your child can sit down for 20-30 minutes 2 or three times a week and practice together (a way to spend time with your loved one if the weather is not up to scratch or we enter another lockdown!)
You might ask yourself why do we need to develop an ancient skill like this and what use is this now in the electronic age? Well, it boils down to communications and wellbeing.
First of all, it teaches control and discipline. According to the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh: “Writing calligraphy is a practice of meditation. In my calligraphy, there is ink, tea, breathing, mindfulness, and concentration.” It also uses more of our own brainpower to teach us about proportion, positive and negative space, depth perception, and light.
Betty Soldi, author of Inkspired: Creating Calligraphy, says that people can find tranquillity by taking some time out of their day to be creative. “We discover so much about ourselves by just taking the time to stop.” There are many benefits to calligraphy: “Mindfulness – writing reflects that. Creativity – you can be utterly creative with what you do. Wellbeing – it actually helps a lot on so many levels if you take time and nurture your skills because it’s not something you can master instantly.”
It has been shown, when practised regularly, to help reduce stress and anxiety levels, plus increase patience, concentration and cognitive skills. What’s more, in this current world where everyone is striving to be seen and individual or standing out in some way, by using Calligraphy we have an excellent solution at our fingertips to get noticed. Not only is it the outcome that’s satisfying, but the process of creating calligraphy is a joy in itself, making it a great hobby for anyone to pick up.