The Pencil: A Mundane Necessity

The Pencil: A Mundane Necessity

My mind occasionally takes interesting vacations, hard left turns into random musings. Maybe it gets bored. I don’t know, but it trips right on down the path past the dad jokes and onto oddities. The other day, I find myself considering that ubiquitous stick of wood-wrapped graphite commonly called the pencil.

The pencil is one of those things that is always around until you need it. Your parents buy a 10-pack the week before you start first grade and you’re down to two by the end of the first week and one of those is already down to a short, eraser-less nub. You could have a ream of paper and a novel dripping from your ears, but there is nary a pencil to be seen. I remember between-the-bells deals in the school hallway going down in middle school: “Hey, you got a pencil I can borrow? I’ve got a test next hour!”

The pencil is a simple device with the power to change the world. In the current digital age, it’s legacy goes largely ignored. You might look for one if a keyboard isn’t close, but it tends to be a last resort. If you do happen to have an old-fashioned, wooden pencil close, where is the sharpener?

I try to encourage my son to pick up a pencil and work on his penmanship regularly. Nothing says you care quite the same as a hand-written note. I want the world to be able to read what he writes. Capturing his thoughts using a basic tool allows for a bit of his personality to come through in every line and loop on the page.

Whether it is hand-written notes, photographs, or Oklahoma’s educational system, I think it is time we take a moment to remember mundane necessities like the pencil. We spend far too much time focusing on where technology should be taking us. We forget the simple clarity of intentional words on paper, purposeful image composition, and critical thinking.

Words mean things. A picture is worth a thousand of them. We need to think a bit more critically about the words and images with which others try to color our world view. We need to begin considering the bare necessities, no matter how mundane they seem.


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