in praise of the pencil

in praise of the pencil

In the last few years I have pretty much given up the pen in favour of a pencil. When I was a child and learning to print through most of elementary school, I was taught to use a pencil and I have found my way back to it.

The thing I love about pencils is their impermanence. I can write an idea down and if there is a slight mistake I have the eraser on the other end. I also like the way it does not seep through the paper. I love that if my list gets too long I can erase the things marked off and add more with a pencil.

I like the way it glides across the page like silk. A soft slide. 

When I sharpen my pencil I feel ready, that particular perfect point. 

For years I was a connoisseur of pens, and I still have a love for them. Not fancy expensive pens. I have never wanted my pen to be a status symbol. It was all about the way the ink hit the page. I still like a nice gel pen with a medium tip but given the choice for the last few years, I will choose a pencil. Though I will always flirt with pens.

I use it in my calendar particularly. No need to cross off a change in schedule I can just make it disappear, albeit there is a faded memory of what might have been. A change in address is just as easy. The pencil has its benefits.

The one weakness of the pencil is the sharpener. If you are on the road you must also carry a sharpener as you cannot trust the tip not to break. Also, if you have a fit of inspiration and write down note after note, you'll lose your lovely tip and need a sharpener. I am partial to big sharpeners that hold the shavings. In my knapsack they are big and there is a danger of spilling, so on the road my flirtation with pens becomes more serious, though I keep a pencil on the side. At my desk the pencil reigns.

All pencils are not equal I have found. There are different leads and they write differently. Like a pen you have to find one that's right for you.

I have learned that it is not a lowly forgotten tool after all and I buy them by the box. That's the other thing a pen lasts longer in every way. But still I like the glide my pencil gives me, like a ride of the imagination as I write down an idea, a hope a dream. It's impermanence both a reassurance and a reminder. 

Such a simple thing to make me happy but it does. Not a day goes by that I don't pick up my pencil the same way I did as a small child with my hand wrapped around it full of possibility.

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  • Deanne Fitzpatrick
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