Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Postcards are about YOU

The postcard project continued with both one of the highest months ever (over 127 postcards in 8 days) and now a new ‘limit’ due to changes in my health. Now we are trying to have ‘on’ weeks of higher number of postcards and ‘off weeks’ with lower number of postcards like 15 or so. That way we still go over 100 every month but also, I am giving in to my medical advisors to not take too much risk to my health in trying to do what I cannot anymore.

That being said, I stayed up until past 7:00 am to not finish but prep some postcards. Yes, I pulled an all nighter! Postcards just take me longer now, as the degeneration of nerves in my hands seems to have accelerated quickly (which was a bummer as they were stable for a while). So I try to separate writing the postcards from doing the stamping or other tasks to use the maximum energy to write. I also have a ‘postcard whisperer’ who is person who gives me a couple cards and says things like, “Only likes the color blue, wants postcard with no people in it.” so that I can remember who the postcard is going to. Since my memory is only about two days, that works out well, I match, I stamp, I get ‘whispered’ to and I write.

I sadly end up talking a lot about myself, and I wish I could talk about YOU, (a postcard prepared for writing on) because you are the people for whom the postcard project continues (however I promised confidentiality, and that includes responses back, unless you tell me I can publish it). It was created with an idea of having some friends along on a trip to Japan, almost a year ago and now, far over 1500 postcards later (I don’t count anymore), it is still about YOU, the individual and your day. The postcard comes to you, it is picked out specially for you, it is chosen, with the hope that the one person who receives it will be the person and the time that they need it. That it will give laughter, joy, amusement, encouragement, a knowledge of not being along, hope, caring, compassion. Whatever it is the person needs in their heart is what I hope arrives.

I say, sometimes, “Now that is a person who needs a postcard!” That is when some hate mail comes in, or an abusive email, or someone who believes that I am scamming them, or that this is all a trick. I’ve been called a lot of names, and threatened with a lot of violence and/or abusive sexual acts and really, these people do NEED a postcard. I mean, life has hurt them so much that they turn on others? That they literally no longer believe that they are worthy of being cared about just because they exist? Now those are the people who need a postcard the most! (Four postcards, selected, matched and prepared for four people, ready for writing - names removed)
Every month, every week I have hard days, and days when a voice inside, or more often a voice outside says, “Why the hell do you keep pushing yourself? THEY DON’T CARE!” Which is easy to believe, isn’t it? That of all the hundreds of addresses I have sent to, most of the people don’t care. And maybe it is true. And even so, to me that is completely irrelevant. Because I started this and I continue this on the belief, the hope, the conviction that I could change the rotation of the earth. See, the whole world seems to think weird things like ‘who has the most money is the most important’, or ‘only care about yourself’ or ‘might or greed makes right.’ And the thing is that each person, in my case regardless of ability or disability, regardless of friends, or friendliness or not, regardless of other beliefs is still a human being. And my job is to try by showing, by demonstrating on a weekly basis that if you are human and you know someone who wants you to get a postcard, or you request a postcard and you send me your name, address and a bit about you (to mpshiel at hotmail.com), I will care about you. I will pick the postcard that will be right for you, or I will give it my best shot. And by doing this, over and over, there will be a spark in a few people, that some people will think that, yeah, I don’t need to wait for Xmas, that maybe people are worth caring about. That maybe even people I disagree with are people who are human and need to know that someone cares, that they are cared about. But like changing anything with a GREAT deal of mass and force behind it, changing the rotation of the earth, or how the people on earth tend to think, is a hard job and there are no big and dramatic changes. Just little sparks, as change occurs.

I don’t get responses for over 90% of the postcards that are sent. I don’t hear from over 90% of the people, and the vast majority, almost never, except to confirm the address. But then, once in a while, someone will send a letter or an email which says, in its own way, that the spark of caring is being carried on.

Most cards are ‘uniques’ or rather, known as postcards which I will never see again. Think of something you love, a hobby or an animal that you love. And you have 25 postcards of that, and if you give them away, you will NEVER see them again. That is my job, to overcome the love in my heart for each postcard, so that it goes to the right person, to find that person, and to send it, knowing I will never see it again. When am I going to see a Lord of the Rings Postcard, or Escher color print? Many of the postcards I source literally one at a time, and one vendor said, “you really do care about each postcard!” Yes, each one, and then it is gone and my job is to start again. Many people have given postcards; great postcards I want to keep for myself.....but that is not my job. Each week, and some weeks we send out a large amount of ‘specials’ and ‘uniques’ and ‘only’ which means that the postcard is something I collected, or found, discovered, bid on, found a collector and emailed them for weeks to get, found in another country and spent $5 or $10 on, and now I have to find the right home for it. The most I know of is a $40 postcard we sent out. That’s the job, matching the postcard (and the sticker and stamping) to YOU (And yes, some people call it 'crazy' or 'stupid' or 'a waste' - is another person, a human really not worth $5 or $10 or $40 and a postage stamp? to say, "I think and I care about you").

And every week I have pain, sometimes a pang, sometimes more severe knowing that the postcards which I love are now gone, likely forever (or for my short lifetime). I remind myself it is gone to another home, and to people I care about and that helps some, but not always. Yes, I’m human and a collector and I spend sometimes up to ten hours of negotiation for EACH postcard, in order to send them out. Because a person wanted a postcard of catgirls, or catboys, or Yaoi, or Yuri, or Abstract art, or totally Green, Yellow, Blue, Purple, done in squares, whatever the request, whatever the need, I try to fill it. Sometimes they are promotional freebies for buying something at a fair 10 or 20 years ago, or from a book long, long out of print. Whatever you need, I am but the person who gets to sift through to find what to give (“need” not just “want”). I am grateful to the thoughtful people who have chosen and sent postcards to be used for others, postcards carefully chosen by dozens of minds, to go out to hundreds of homes.

When I die, I expect the postcard project will die with me. Linda and Cheryl know the tremendous amount of effort it takes: hours per postcard. So I am working on living as long as I can. Because the post/mail person coming is one of the few random elements of life, and there should always be that hope! “Today something comes” because someone has been thinking about you.

For anyone who would like to contribute, particularly postage stamps, the .94 cent stamps or .42 or ‘forever’ stamps are the ones we use the most. If you have a few sitting around that you don’t use anymore, we can use them desperately. We sent to five continents this last week alone. Every continent except the US and Canada require a .94 cent stamp and the MAJORITY of our requests come from continents outside of North America (postcard prepped for writing, a .94 cent stamp: this postcard has got to fly!). No one will EVER not receive a postcard due to living far away from me. But if you ever decide you want to be part of the project I am at:

Elizabeth McClung
P.O. Box 2560
Port Angeles, WA

Of course, if you have some relatives, some friends, and some extra postcards, another thing you could do, is start a little postcard project of your own. Just an idea. Sometimes, it is the little things, which sometimes can make a great difference.