There’s this cliché story about a pencil and a pencil maker.
The Pencil Maker took the pencil aside, just before putting him into the box.
“There are 5 things you need to know,” he told the pencil, “Before I send you out into the world. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best pencil you can be.”
“One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in Someone’s hand.”
“Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you’ll need it to become a better pencil.”
“Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make.”
“Four: The most important part of you will always be what’s inside.”
“And Five: On every surface you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition, you must continue to write.”
The pencil understood and promised to remember, and went into the box with purpose in its heart.
I could not remember the first time I held a pencil. What I remembered was our walls were never the same since then. The Sistine Chapel was nothing compared to our walls – my masterpiece. Of course my parents had a different opinion. I guess they always do.
There seems to be a hierarchy among kids when it comes to the writing instrument. Toddlers are only allowed to use pencils and crayons. Maybe a little colored marker here or there, but most of the time the standard is pencils and crayons. Then a few years later, the school aged kid will be required to use pens instead of pencils.
Using a pen would indicate a transition in life much like a rite of passage where one passes through an ordeal. This time, possessing a pen would entail that you are older and wiser than those babies holding a pencil.
Don’t take that seriously. I am making that up.
Whether it’s a pencil, a pen, a marker, a crayon or a painbrush, each stroke entails a certain responsibility. For toddlers, each scrawl on the wall would mean a reprimand from the furious parents. For children, each line, shape or painting would also etch a fine memory in their lives especially if their teacher hangs their masterpiece on the school bulletin board. For school aged children, wielding a pen may mean that at this point, you cannot just as easily erase your mistakes as when you were experimenting with your writing skills. This time you have to be precise and firm in writing your notes and copying your homework (ooops).
As personal opinions begin to develop, the responsibility with a pen grows. High school students begin to take responsibility in writing their opinions whether it be in the school paper, in the school’s bulletin board or on the city’s freedom wall. Whether it be a spray painted graffiti or a written note for a secret loved one, we take full responsibility with the message we convey.
With adulthood? We know how complicated it has become. With lawsuits, government documents and many other odds and ends that didn’t make sense but had to be signed, or written or stamped on. The responsibility had grown.
So whether you’re holding a crayon, a pencil, a pen, or a marker, remember that we are always responsible for the marks that we leave. Not just on any writing medium, the same goes with the marks that we leave in our life.
Meanwhile, pencils down to the pencil maker and his pencils.