It’s a wonderful thing, you see.
I stopped writing in cursive in the seventh grade. It was all printed letters from there on out. For some reason or other, I took up the quill (or pencil, actually) and started to write things all curly and old-fashioned once again.
I’ve tried picking it up again two other times in my adult life, but it never stuck.
My family and friends are familiar with my odd personal challenges. They rarely serve any purpose whatsoever. Like the time I listened to my entire music collection from A to Z. Or eating candy only in prime-number amounts.
Then I read an interesting article about the nature of handwriting and its effects on brain activity. From the article:
The brain’s “reading circuit” of linked regions that are activated during reading was activated during hand writing, but not during typing.
Communications? Efficiency? Ideas? WHY DO I PRINT MY DAMNED WORDS? “No more,” I promised with a better-placed-elsewhere resolve.
Polishing a skill unused for 20 years or so is tough. At the start, I could feel my brain using up extra capacity as I struggled with the simple connections between the letters of a word. But kept at it. A whiteboard and dry-erase marker really helped ease me back into the dignified way. (I hate to call it that, but boy do I feel fancy, now.)
Should I ever gain access to a time machine, I would consider going back and slapping my seventh-grade self and insist upon maintaining proper penmanship skills. But maybe not. Because, you see, my handwriting is better than it ever was.
My teachers always gave me poor marks for handwriting, and for good reason. I’ve seen some of those chicken-scratchings. You’d think I would have pursued a career as a doctor or something.
Each word more closely resembles my father’s handwriting now. Before it was large, unruly, flying off of the lines. Now it’s measured, even-handed, and tiny. (It’s also unreadable at a distance, which has its benefits.)
Many of the things I write for work or pleasure start off in written form. On paper. With a pencil. But now, those same words are slanty and flowing, and I’ll be damned if it isn’t just as satisfying as can be. Now, I’ll sit in meetings and take notes about things I have business taking notes about JUST SO I CAN PRACTICE.
Sometimes I’ll reserve a conference room with a whiteboard and a marker at work to work through some ideas. In cursive. There’s a certain rhythm and harmony that comes with praciticing a skill learned in youth, as an adult.
As much fun as it is, my handwriting will never win awards. I’m not signing up to teach cursive classes. My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Freese, probably wouldn’t grade it better than a B- at best. That doesn’t matter, for the most important part is not what happens on the page, but what happens in my brain.