Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Power of a Pencil

"Do you see this pencil, Harvey?"

Harvey peeked across the table, over the top of his papers. "Yes, Ned. I see the pencil."

"It's interesting. Harvey. This is an interesting pencil." Ned rotated it between his fingers mere inches from his eyes.

"You can't just tell me that the pencil is interesting, Ned, you have to tell me why it's interesting. Describe it."

"Well, it's yellow, and about six inches long with an eraser at one end and a writing tip on the other. It has a two on it."

"Don't tell me that, Ned. I know all that just from you saying it's a pencil. Just describe the interesting part."

"It's got bite marks on it."

"Have you been biting my pencil?" Harvey snatched the pencil away from Ned to examine it. "Ned, that's gross." Harvey wiped the pencil on his shirt before tossing it onto the table.

"Sorry, Harvey." Ned twiddled his thumbs. "I just thought it was an interesting pencil."

"Why?"

"I don't know, it was something. Something I can hold in my hands, put in my mouth. It was real. Harvey. Things aren't real around here, have you noticed?"

"Sure Ned, I've noticed. Things aren't real around here until they need to be, like the pencil."

"I don't get it."

"Okay, Ned." Harvey put his papers down on the table and took off his glasses. "Check this out."

"Woah, Harvey, you wear glasses?"

"I didn't until I took them off. The world you and I live in comes to life as we use it. Where are we?"

"We're sitting at the table."

"That's what we're doing, but where are we?"

"We're in a room." Just as Ned said the word 'room,' he was suddenly aware of the room around him. It was a kitchen.

"That's right. We're in a room. What am I wearing?"

"It's a kitchen! Is it your kitchen or my kitchen? How did we get here?"

"One question at a time. What am I wearing?"

"A shirt. You wiped the pencil on it."

"Good, Ned. I'm wearing a shirt because I had to wipe the pencil on it." Harvey reached out and touched Ned between the eyes. "Focus on me, Ned. Until I needed a shirt to wipe the pencil on, it didn't exist. Until you asked me to look at the pencil, the pencil didn't exist. We didn't exist."

"We didn't?" Ned sat back in his chair and put his hand to his head.

"No, we didn't. We're in a story, Ned, and stuff comes into existence as it is needed. Plates, spoons, knives, all the things that go in a kitchen aren't there until we need them, then they are."

"I don't get it."

"The story teller doesn't write an inventory of everything in the room to tell the story. They just say what they need. The reader fills in the rest with his or her imagination. But the story teller doesn't just say what he wants to say either, he must describe it, not factual like you did the pencil, but what is interesting about whatever he's describing. So this story is about you, me, and a pencil."

"So what do I do?"

"I don't know, go outside, describe what you see."

Ned stands up and walks to the door. His hand is shaky as he turns the handle, but the door opens smooth for him as if it wanted to be open. A cool breeze welcomed Ned as he stepped into the garden. The sun dropped a blanket of warmth on his face. Harvey followed.

"What do you see?"

"I see flowers and grass and the street and cars and other houses and fences and all sorts of things."

"What's interesting about all of that?"

"It's not real, Harvey. They are all just drawings of those things."

"Those are just drawings from my pencil."

"Were they ever real?"

"Only to us and for a short time."

"Will they ever be real to anyone else?"

"Just those that read."

"I'm confused, Harvey. Was our story really about a pencil?"

"No. It was about how the pencil can create existence, but it's not real. Everything that pencil can create can, at best, allude to something real. It can remind the person looking at the picture or reading the words of what exists in real life, but it can never replace. From our world of allusion, we can bring out real emotions, but nothing else. Everything else, even what we use to bring out those emotions, are something the reader can relate to real life, or there is no basis for understanding. The pencil is a symbol. It is interesting, because it's a piece of wood with some graphite in it, and with it, we can create anything we can imagine."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think it's good! -A