20 January 2010:
Something happened yesterday that made me stop in my tracks. I went down to the mailbox to see if the postman had been. Yes, there were a clutch of letters and I opened the bills and sundry invites in a desultory fashion, pausing every few paces to stoop and pick a weed or dead-head a rosebush. I noticed a small white envelope. On it was handwritten in black marker-pen ‘Fix the heart with a work of art’. I opened it, expecting some sort of junk mail advertising. A small copy of a photograph fell out, it looks like a picture of some spectacular cosmic activity; maybe a shooting star. But it’s a beautiful photograph. I looked inside the envelope and saw there was a letter, which I read.
This is what it said:
To the Recipient
Inside this envelope you will find a work of art.
Hopefully it will be as beautiful to you as it was to me when I put it in here.
It might not be conventional art, it might be poetry or prose or abstract or modern art, or anime graphics or webcomic panels.
It might even be song lyrics.
I chose it because it is one of the most beautiful things I know and I want to send it out to the world to be seen.
I don’t know you, and probably will never meet you, but people we know send us messages all the time, reporters in newspapers who tell us about the crime problem, advertisers who promise us perfect lives and looks, people in shopping malls who stare disapprovingly at what we’re wearing.
I have a message for you too, but it’s much simpler than any of these. My message to you is:
IN THIS WORLD THERE ARE VERY BEAUTIFUL THINGS.
Inside this envelope is one of them.
Holding this envelope is another.
That’s the message and here’s how to spread it:
First take out the artwork I have sent you.
Next, find a piece of art, maybe a favourite quote or movie still or drawing; a photo or even real object like a feather or pretty stone or leaf, anything that you feel is so amazing and beautiful that you would like to share it with someone.
Seal it in this envelope, along with these instructions (or a copy of them).
Give this envelope to someone. You can do it directly by dropping it into their hand, or maybe into a shopping trolley, or into a random letter box or under their windscreen wipers in a parking lot. Anything goes.
There is just one rule, YOU MUST GIVE IT TO SOMEONE YOU DON’T KNOW!
Anyone at all, but NOT someone you have met before or spoken to.
In this world strangers have more power over us often than those we’re closest to.
Please feel free to copy and print this. I’m going to do it because, just for a moment, I felt that this sort of feelgood nonsense actually could work.