Have you ever looked—really looked—at a new box of crayons? Each crayon a testimony to detail, each color a rich waxen dream, each soft paper wrapper an invitation to your hand. When I look at an untouched box of crayons, I wonder how each crayon’s life will play out. One might meet its fate in a child’s hand, painstakingly forming the letters of a lemonade stand sign. One might snap in half in the grasp of a harried mother, scribbling down her to-do list on the back of a permission slip. One might even make a journey overseas to a child in Africa at Christmastime, and then shortly become a blast of color on a recycled coloring book page.
I grew up with Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, suffering through every trolley whistle in the hope that he would play the video about the Crayola factory. Nothing excited me more than the huge vat of white paraffin making its rounds through the machinery, separating into small tubes, sliding through molds and dyes and rolls of wrapping, and eventually landing with a gentle thump in a labeled cardboard box, which a smiling worker in plastic gloves sealed and moved along.
I believe that I am a new crayon in the big rotary wheel of life. I go through the same processes and machines that everyone else does when I am created, though I might be a different color than others. If my wrapper is slightly off-center or my edge isn’t perfect, a cheerful worker repairs me and sends me back onto the conveyer.
As a new crayon, I have a world of opportunity open to me. I can decide what purpose I serve, and what I use my unique color for. When my last bit of wax is used up, I will have done my duty, and you will see traces of me on the surfaces I colored, long after I’m gone. Along the way, I might get separated from my comfortable box and thrown in with other crayons who might shove me out of sight, I might get picked up by some unassuming child and be smeared into oblivion on a piece of construction paper. Whatever my lot in life, I will do it proudly, with all the dignity a humble little crayon can have.
I believe in the magic of a new box of crayons, in every story each crayon promises, in each perfectly crafted point. I started out just like everyone else, and I’ll end it just the same way—but my story will be unique, and the color I leave behind will not easily rub off. This I believe.