The Wisdom of Pencil

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In college, I rarely use pencils. But I always make sure to buy a good pen. I take note of its brand and quality. I also often fancy pens with expensive brands, but I looked for something more affordable and practical. Merging erasability with appearance,  I was grateful to find a pen whose ink is erasable by friction. I tried using it, but later I stopped indefinitely. Despite such pen available, I still find pencils a great deal. There is less complication. I found that nothing is more nostalgic and quaint like using a freshly sharpened classic pencil.

I started using pencil primarily when I started collecting and reading books. I always underline great quotes and write notes on the side of the page. Using a pencil would allow me not to mess too much on the pages, since pencil marks are erasable. Now, I always look for a good pencil, one whose lead would not break so easily. I used to experiment over mechanical pencils, but these elegant devices disappointed me, since mechanisms that lock thin pencil leads can easily jam. So I resorted to the old fashion pencils which I can sharpen from time to time if the lead gets dull.

I thought that using a pencil was just a practical thing, until an insight dawn on me almost a year ago. In a ritual workshop I attended last year, we were ask to find three symbols in our lives. I chose my business card, which symbolizes Pathfinders’ Commune, a gratitude stone that I got from one of the gatherings I attended, and my pencil. My third choice was not surprising at all, although it made me wonder about the role of pencil in my life. The meaning became clearer. I use pencil not just for taking notes, but also creating mind maps and clusters of many of my ideas that have been born to become most of my articles in this blogsite. A pencil, therefore, is my symbol of creation.

And writing is my form of creation. I discover, examine, generate, combine and organize many ideas. Some of them range from the most viable to the most neglected. I have written many of them using a pencil. I have drawn many visual icons and objects just to illustrate how these ideas appear or how they work. Whenever I make a mistake, an eraser comes handy. Then I would continue to write, label and draw whatever I think and feel that a pencil calls to write. I rely on a pencil like an extension of my soul.

I rely on a pencil like an extension of my soul.

The parable of pencil was once a famous story shared in the pulpit, printed in newspapers and sent as text messages. It says pretty much about pencil as a metaphor of the human soul: What is important is inside of a pencil. It is sharpened to bring the best in it. Mistakes can be erased. And it fulfills its purpose in the hand of the Divine. The parable is a classic inspiration, and it confirms what I have been learning about humanity in general. So far, I have found much more.

A pencil is mightier than the pen. It is because of the former’s capacity to create in infinite ways that the latter cannot. With a pencil in one’s hand, an artist sketches beautiful faces and landscapes. Pencil is what an architect uses to design magnificent edifices. A woodworker uses pencil just to measure and mark the wood to be cut precisely and perfectly. A cartoonist draws many cartoon characters, still using a pencil. And a child learns to write for the first time using a pencil. A pencil is a witness to our inner capacities, long before a pen marks its ink to change the world.

My fascination for pens gave me a better reason to be more fascinated with pencils, not just for its practical use, but because of a more fundamental reason. Holding a pencil is like holding my soul, allowing it to dance on paper and create new forms and ideas. There is always a mutual inspiration: that I am the one that brings a pencil into life, and it brings the life back to me. I have a small pencil which I stopped sharpening to preserve a message carved near its end: “Life is like a pencil”. True, pencil is a metaphor of life. It might reach its end of being a pencil, but what it has written down is eternal. I hope my life writes that way.

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