Friday, April 06, 2012

Courtesy of My Pencil

This blog entry is courtesy of Pencil, the personage who reminds me I've been in some horrible relationships.  Pencils are complex beings, men and friends whom I allowed to suck the life from me, people whom I have since divorced physically, spiritually and/or emotionally.
Have you ever been stabbed by a literal pencil?  I have, and at a very young age.  It happened quite by accident.  I was in elementary school.  The pencil was sharp.  I did something and the tip punctured the palm of my left hand, the hand I write with.  The unleaded point made a permanent gray spot under my skin.  I am looking at it now.  Okay, not this very second, because I am typing, but I just paused to look at the souvenir this pencil (un)kindly gave me.

Pencils can be dangerous, as is our friend Pencil.  They can be frightening.  They can be depressing.  They can be exhausting.  They can ruin our lives.  They can be things we want to avoid but can't because they are requirements.  "Take good care of your Pencils, children," says the teacher.  "Stop losing your Pencils!"  And, "Don't sharpen your Pencil down so much!  You'll waste it."  If you've had a Pencil in your life, you are well aware that society deems Pencils important, things to be cherished, even when Pencils can cause accidents and should be replaced by pens or keyboards, the more mature choices for developing human beings.

Why we mandate children use sharp objects is beyond me.  We give kids dull scissors and don't allow them to use a stapler, yet, not only do we have Pencils forced on us, we often are forbidden or at least discouraged from switching to pens.  After all, Pencil marks typically can be erased, leaving a few streaks to be covered with things like math problems.  Sometimes overused erasers leave holes in the paper, but that's okay, because if Pencil's erasers are ground down to the metal, separate, pink erasers help Pencil out, ensuring enduring use.

Erasable pens, for whatever reason, have never met the standard, educational, institutional norm; they are said not to perform as well as Pencils.  Graduating--evolving from pencil to pen--becomes a task not worth taking on because who wants to challenge an entire culture of Pencil-pushers?  So we become accustomed to Pencils.  We welcome them, buy packages of them, worry about running out, especially during a test.  "Bring two, number two Pencils.  Don't forget."  We remember, sometimes bringing three, just in case.  The sight, feel and smell of Pencil become comforting, familiar signs of promised success, even though we know if we allow Pencil to get too close, we can get hurt, or Pencil might break right in the middle of an equation.  And while we think we are using Pencil, in reality, Pencil is using us, our hands, our minds, our muscles, our money, everything it takes to allow Pencil to function as prescribed by the powers.

Thanks to some great helpers, most of my Pencils are long gone, thank God.  I use the computer far too much to allow a Pencil to get in the way of my work and relationships.  This is not to say there are no Pencils in my life.  There are, but they are relegated to one professional area with a sharpener that tends not to want to release them until they are ground down to the least hazardous material.  My current Pencils get smaller and smaller, eventually becoming smooth nubs.

I am well protected when I am with Pencils as I assist the sharpener with the job of shrinking dangerous wood and graphite.  At the same time, I have compassion for Pencils.  They were manufactured.  They were enabled.  I don't believe Pencils should be condemned.  I want to help make their sawdust into something better.  Perhaps scrapbook paper.  Yeah.  Scrapbook paper.  Now there's something pretty that smells good and keeps happy memories intact. 

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