An Existential Crisis of Handwriting

The other day I was talking with a friend of mine and somehow we got on the topic of cursive handwriting. I mentioned how I could never remember how to make a cursive Z or Q, so I just printed them and attached them to the rest of the word. She surprised me by replying that she found she couldn’t write quickly in cursive, and so had to make notes in print, because she didn’t learn cursive until she was in middle-school. I wondered at this, and then wrote down the whole capital cursive alphabet and stared at it. Writing that way comes so naturally to me, and I tried imagining what it would be like not to have it come naturally. After a few minutes the loops and whorls and curls of what I had just written became alien to me. How had I created these foreign shapes? How do we make sense of them? How did we actually manage to fit them together to make words?

I had the feeling of the familiar become momentarily foreign combined with the difficulty of imagining not having a skill that I take for granted. I never had to think about cursive: ever since second-grade I was able to do joined-up writing. Since then, as long as I can remember, I’ve used cursive, only printing on rare occasions. It made me wonder, how many things do we take for granted that others may not have experienced or cannot experience?

Mainly, though, it was simply a moment of amazement, awe, and appreciation for life’s many oddities. I love those times when I become a child again, and am content to marvel at the world, whether or not I can comprehend it.


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