Life as a Pencil – Reflection and Aphorism

Minutes after deep thought looking bluntly on my pen, I wrote: When growths finally shrink into the last hue of gloomy carbon shade; and heartily embrace the thrust pushing and turning into the sharpener’s razor-like edges, recollective parables sink into my mind, the pencil story (see P. Hudson, 2020; P. Cuelho, 2009; B. Davis 2005).

What If Life Could Have Been a Piece of a Crude Pencil?

Only then the eyes be opened, that life is not about growing up or eventually hurled into the years of growing old. The opposite is true, it’s about growing meek or finding strength to be weak. To shrink everything away just to grow small; to be humble, insignificant; to grow lesser each day to be mighty and great, just like a child! Life is like a pencil, you only know you have truly grown, when you make friends with a sharpener’s edge. And in pain you gladly grow small! And for all we know greatness always comes to us in the simplicity and humility of our hearts.

The pangs of sharpening may have been the pen’s nemesis, or its most atrocious pain, but without it, every pencil is futile, so to our lives, without pain there will be no authentic learning! It has been and will always be the path towards fullness, fitness, and wellness at the same time. For the pain of every squeezing and refining has nothing compared to the remarkable needle sharp point of every efficient drafting pen!

Source: Pexels

Life’s greatest contract is not actually about overcoming the dread of its sorrows; rather, it is about the journey of our conscious minds to the recesses of our willing hearts, to heartily accept the pain and see the brighter side and count it all as pure joy. Growth comes in our keeping up with the pain, as the indispensable gladness and being transformed by it. Just like the pencil, the joy of life comes only after constant shaping, forming, perfecting, and fashioning, but more than our looks, we have to sharpen our souls!

As the heap of crude and purported led and wood are mere blessings that draw out the best in every pen, in like manner, all of us need to draw out something great. If there is something good hidden in the coverings of crude wood, it’s no other than our lives, our unpolished and rudimentary ‘earthen-like-vessels’ selves and our so fragile hearts that carry fine pearls, the most unique precious gems.

They wrap something sacred; something that is marked out to be a heavenly bliss. This celestial gem that is enclosed from deep within is hidden not to be lost forever but to be our goal, our dream, and the point of departure in our life’s quest for meaning and meaningfulness. We are not afraid because we are powerless, we fear because we never knew as we haven’t even tried what that immense greatness we have inside is.

When this crude earthen-like fragile wood bricks breakaway, it gives a shot to the ‘gem-of-our-truest-value’ that is kept deep within the recess of our being. And like a pencil we are called to leave a mark. Every stroke counts as the years of life pass by. With us yearning on the things we draw and the things being drawn into us as we make a mark, we also mark and take note of ourselves as we take notice of the marvelous and wise thoughts we ponder through life. Our greatness is truly great. We begin to share the priceless treasure we only have from deep inside.

Life’s messy handwriting

But not all strokes in life are good; in fact, most of them seem to be playful messes. This makes up the beauty of our existence. Keep up with the mess. For it is in being broken that we are fashioned to be a great healer. In this regard, like a pencil we are provided with a short rough rubbing rubber to delete and forgive whatever shortcomings, failures and misgivings that may have had in the messy journey we call life.

But why is it, the rubber is smaller and it in the most part runs out during our writing, drawing and marking. It is so to remind us that forgiveness is always divine, we forgive, and we forget, but it needs a great courage to heal after the hurt, it also takes greater courage to delete and to give second chances. Life could have been a great mess with its shattered and broken dreams after all, it is a beautiful life that we need to decipher and wide to erase the things that we need to unload and unlearn.

Most of all, we must keep up with the last worth and value in our lives. Remind ourselves, that pens are not writing things on their own. It is not able to stand and create any stroke in carbon hue all alone by itself.

Remember to keep this in mind. As any pencil can write, it only writes or leaves a mark because someone or something is holding it. Remember also we can be here to move and live and have our being because there is this one God who fashioned heaven and earth and how human life be of worth for himself, for others and for the rest of the world to give glory once again to the works of the finger of God’s right hand.

So, if this is the price of a life just like pencils have ever been, why do we have to work? Why are we assured of personal worth if everything is destined in the hand of the Almighty beyond heaven and earth? We are no creator of good, yet the loving Lord and Father of us all, He alone, is the wellspring of all that is good. In fact by the virtue of His being divine, he is truly, really and substantially Goodness himself.

Source: Pexels

We can only be good if we participate by knowing and conforming to goodness and to participate in His goodness more fully. He bestowed on us the faculties we needed including our dreams and desires. As far as I can remember, there are at least three categories of goodness and the quest of being good. 

First is the virtue of existence. Anything that can be called as such and that is will always be good. If that is an angel or a devil, by virtue of its existence both are plainly good.

The second one is by virtue of perfection, if one has a flaw no matter how small is regarded as not good compared with that which has no imperfections. Here angels are considered good compared with devils.

And finally, the last degree of goodness is that capacity to share. If God is all that is good, he cannot help but share his goodness, it springs from His being God. It necessitates Him to create man and the universe to share and communicate his goodness.

If this is so with our lives and the grace of goodness ever bestowed upon human nature, we must live good lives and be ever thankful for such gifts that we don’t ask for and we don’t even deserve to have.

The bliss of writing with the crude pencil brought me the gist of these thoughts as the following aphorism:

Life is a Pencil!

There is always something so great in all of us: “THE GEM OF OUR TRUEST VALUE”. There is something great in the uniqueness of our being; like the carbon of the pencil, our greatness lies on the very core of our being.

Even our FLAWS reflect the uniqueness and ingenuity of our STRENGTHS: the crude residual scrap of sharpening, the residual rubber scrap from erasures reflects our genuine power, the inner strength we never thought we always had all the time. These scraps reflect the sharpness that we have become.

To journey on to our own greatness, we need to be “SHARPENED”: “The painful processes of the sharpening of the soul and joyfully to stand ready to face even the dark night of our souls.

In life we need to work whether for ourselves or for the world that working needs to be written. In our very own lives, we are not born just to feel, appreciate or struggle through life; we are not here just to learn or to gain wisdom as if life is just like school! We are here to leave a MARK! The truest valued gem in us needs to be left behind as are unique tokens and marks for the rest of the world.

Source: Pexels

Maturity: in this life, is embracing the consequences of the sharpening: the smaller we get, the more we mature and become closer to our inner selves, to the core and recesses of our souls.” MATURITY IS HUMILITY even counting it pure joy to endure even the scorn of humiliations

Life may have been ambivalent; it is full of ups and downs, and none of us is born experts. If mistakes happen either we falter or we are trespassed, we need to forgive and we also must ask forgiveness. Just like a pencil, in this life, we are provided with an “ERASER”.

And with all humility, we must remember in all life’s endeavors, there is Someone greater holding us! There is a creative divine source that holds us firm, who sharpens us, who erases our faults; unworthy though make our life messy but worth it just to make a great and manifold mark. That someone divine is GOD.


Joven Manlapaz

Author's Corner

Joven, a former seminarian, was a former public School Teacher a fellow academe who advocates meditative journal, a reflective recording of prayers, meditation and reading. He also enjoys sharing his philosophical, scientific and spiritual insights and pedagogical tips on familiar online platforms that carries his drafts and the aphorisms that inspired his learners and audiences in all walks of life. By sharing his profound aphorisms and excerpts in his journals he stirs and inspires his readers to view life philosophically in a broader perspective.

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