I believe life is like a pencil. Not just any pencil, but a wonderfully tactile “no batteries required” pencil. Sometime it is a familiar yellow number two type. Other times it is a rainbow of hues. Regardless of the type, life is like a pencil.
Inside our pencil is the life we share. With it we create songs, inspiring symphonies, or catchy jingles. We write about those we meet, love, and others not so much. We fill pages with anecdotes and cautions. We disguise names and write descriptive fiction to make our point. Our life story flows as a river onto the page calmly and rhythmically like a lullaby or crashes against the rocks and sharp drops.
We draw vivid, colorful scenes transformed from our mind’s eye to public exhibition. At times, we display our hate to purge our hurts. We discharge our sarcasm hoping to find sympathizers; some will concur, others condemn. Or, we create intimate personal sketches for an audience of one. Sometimes, we simply doodle. Easy flirtatious ideas for a quick mental vacation. If we pay attention, our meanderings become catalysts for greater events in our lives.
Despite our variety, there is one commonality. We must be sharpened. The hard wooden shell must be removed to expose the expressive part inside. It is unpleasant being sharpened removing that which cannot be replaced. We can give a little at a time or a lot. Sometimes we break and try to tape our pieces together. Eventually, we must revisit the break so that we can let go of the brokenness.
Thankfully, we have erasers to forgive our mistakes. The vague smudge may remain, but we make the correction and continue. In time, our eraser is no more. Forgiveness is not within us. We continue to write cautiously guarding against the inevitable mistakes. Sometimes, we hastily scribble over them or simply let others point them out again and again. What a relief when we place a new eraser over our spent one. We use another’s capacity to remove our mistakes. We can again take a chance knowing we can start over.
Then, we are used up. No more can be written. Our great legacy has become that final piece we leave for others. What do we leave? Grand tomes of education, realistic artwork, or caricatures? Recipes to be handed down through the generations? Words of hope, healing, or hate? Whatever we choose, how sad if our lives at the end are nothing more than a one-line paraphrase on our headstone.
Sadder still are those that spend their lives in a dark drawer. Fearing what others might say; fear being ignored; fear being sharpened; fearing mistakes; fearing the end. They fear allowing another to hold them as all pencils are meant to be. In the end, they are tossed out with the other miscellaneous, lost things in the drawer. No matter our end; I believe life is like a pencil.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.