I seldom do paper mailings these days--they're really expensive, and yes, a bit wasteful--but when I do, it reminds me of the old days when I used to take on temporary jobs like running a decollater. A decollater is a machine that tears apart those old multi-part computer forms that still show up in business from time to time, the ones with the holes on the side that are fed through sprockets. The different parts go to different departments. We don't have different departments around the house, but when I do a paper mailing I have to ride herd on an old computer of mine that does nothing much except put out postcards when there's call for it. Four postcards fit on a sheet of card stock. You put the content on one side and the addresses on the other, nicely formatted. When the printer starts you have to keep an eye on it to make sure the ink hasn't run out. You take the finished sheets into the living room and cut them on a paper cutter while you're watching TV. If you're lucky, Joan puts the stamps on.
There's a real sense of, well, relief in all this. When I do it, I think of Gandhi spinning his own clothes. One of the reasons I still do this is that I believe that it's right livelihood for me. I try to minimize both the environmental and the financial damage. People seem to respond well to getting the news in a non-electronic form. And doing it by hand, myself or with Joan, gives me the sense that any damage I do is at least on a human scale. The hope is that any good that I may do will accelerate itself enough to cover the damage. But there's comfort in dealing with the material stuff that enables the spiritual.