It’s always a pleasure to travel to new places, meet new people, and learn interesting bits of local history. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Sunset Beach, North Carolina, and spend a few days with my oldest son and some very dear friends. In my opinion, hanging out on an ocean beach for a few days is about as good as it gets.
The initial plan was to spend a couple of days moseying along the beach, collecting a few shells–and then pestering the locals to tell us what kind of shells we found–but our first visit to the beach led us away from shell hunting on a quest to find a mailbox named Kindred Spirit.
It’s been my experience when locals share their “best places” for visitors to check out, they really are the best places. A local I spoke to informed me a trek to Kindred Spirit would, “be a boon,” to my soul. While that sounded a bit cryptic, it wasn’t ominous, so I decided the mile or so hike to this mysterious mailbox would be worth the effort.
A quick Google search gave me the basic history of the mailbox. The mailbox was put in about 35 years ago by a dating couple. The couple left a notebook and pens inside the mailbox hoping people would leave messages. Frank Nesmith and his former girlfriend Claudia, had no idea how successful their project would become. But successful it was–and is. Over the years thousands have shared their innermost thoughts in the notebooks, and when the notebooks are full, they become part of a special collection at University of North Carolina, Wilmington.
While the history was interesting, I didn’t feel like it was much of a “boon” to my soul. So, I set off with a muted hope that upon finding the mailbox I would find the “boon”.
My husband and son accompanied me, and the hike was surprisingly beautiful. The tide was going out and at one point we came across a crab, desperately trying to burrow into the sand. We got a bit too close to it and discovered crabs are feisty little fighters. We also discovered walking a mile in loose sand is quite the workout.
Still, the hike was worth it. We found the mailbox and while it was a bit underwhelming in size, once I opened it and began reading some of the notebooks inside, I finally realized what my local friend meant about the impact a little mailbox on the end of a long, windy, beach would have on me.
Every kind of emotion one can imagine was in those journals. I read notes of purest joy and notes of deepest grief. It soon became clear this magical little mailbox provided its readers and its contributors, an opportunity to share their deepest, most personal thoughts and feelings without fear of censorship or ridicule.
The notes, no matter what they said, were a slice of a fellow human beings life–an instant reminder that while we all have different experiences, at some point, our lives intersect–whether we know each other or not.
I don’t know how one defines a “boon” to their soul, but I will say after reading many of those notes, I realized my soul felt better simply because I live in a world full of Kindred Spirits. A beautiful thought indeed.