The Allegory of the Pencils
By Thirumur David Kiran
One day, the Master Pencil Maker was busy in his workshop creating pencils. He formed, he cut, he shaped, and he colored. All of this he did with a keen sense of precision and joy, for he loved nothing more than creating pencils and seeing them put to good use in a variety of locations for a variety of purposes. Although seemingly small and insignificant, each one was important their own way. The pencil maker knew this and so he put his best efforts into creating the perfect pencils.
Once the pencils had been created, the Master Pencil Maker had one last task to complete before sending them out to take their places in the various shops, schools, business, etc. where they would be used. He gathered all the pencils together and spoke to them saying, “My dear pencils, there are a few things I need you to know before you go out to fulfill your tasks. Always remember them and you will each become the best pencils you can be.”
The pencil maker picked up one of the pencils and moved it deftly in his hand. He placed the tip of the pencil on a paper and began to write with flowing and artistic strokes. Masterfully and beautifully, his hands maneuvered the pencil over the surface of the paper, creating what was sure to be a masterpiece. When he was finished, he laid the pencil down and held up the paper for all the pencils to see. They all gasped with wonder and the beautiful picture that had been created there. Then the Master Pencil Maker said, “You see, each of you has been created for a purpose. Some of you will create masterpieces, some of you will write books, some of you will jot down information, some of you will even go on to change the course of history. However, you will only do these great things if you allow yourself to be held in someone’s hand. Without that, you won’t be able to accomplish anything.”
The pencil maker then picked up the pencil that he had just been using. He noted that the lead had become dull and pointed this out to the other pencils. The pencil with the dull lead’s face fell and he turned away, feeling embarrassed and useless, for he thought he could no longer be used in any way. The Master Pencil Maker picked him up and placed him in the sharpener and began to turn. The pencil winced from the pain and the other pencils gasped as they didn’t know what the Master was doing. Was this a punishment for the pencil for being blunt and useless? Some shrank back in fear. However, after a minute the Master Pencil Maker pulled the pencil out of the sharpener and held him up to a mirror to look at himself. The pencil gasped with wonder and joy as he saw that his tip was once again sharp and perfect for use! All the other pencils smiled as they now understood. The Pencil Maker said, “Remember, there will come times when each of you will experience a sharpening. Sometimes this sharpening might even be painful. But this is not a sign of failure or that you are useless, but this is required if you are to become better and more useful pencils.” All the pencils nodded their heads in agreement.
The Master placed the pencil down and called another one to come to his side. The pencil rushed forward in eagerness. However, in his haste, he slipped and fell over the drawing that the Master had earlier created, leaving a long black mark across it. The pencil looked at what he had done and then hung his head in shame, tears of guilt streaming down his face. But the Master Pencil Maker picked him up and wiped away his tears. He then turned the pencil over and using the eraser that was attached to the pencil he erased all traces of the mark. He then took the pencil in his hands and touched up the picture till it once more looked beautiful. The Master Pencil Maker turned to the pencils and said, “Always remember, you have the ability to correct any mistakes you might make. No matter how badly you feel you have screwed up, you can fix things.”
He then asked all the pencils to look at each other and tell him what they saw. The pencils looked around at each other and saw that each pencil was different. Some pencils were red; others were black. Some pencils were blue; others were yellow; some pencils were shiny; others were duller by comparison. Some pencils were plain; others were covered with patterns. The Master Pencil Maker explained, “All of you are different in your own ways. Even all of you who are red are different shades of red. Yet it is not the colors or the patterns that you posses on the outside that make you valuable or of worth. It is what’s inside of you that makes you valuable. All of you are the same inside, because that is how you are made. Always remember, the outside can wear out and fade, but the most important part of you will always be what’s inside.”
The Master gathered up all the pencils and sorted them out to place them in their respective boxes. The pencils were all deep in thought as they tried their best to remember what they had learned. Before sealing the boxes the Master said to them, “One last thing that you must remember is this: You should always continue to write. No matter what happens, no matter what the condition, no matter how difficult it may be, you must continue to write, for that is your mission. You must always leave a clear, legible mark wherever you are, no matter how difficult the situation. That is your duty as a pencil!”
The pencils nodded with understanding and promised to remember what they had been told. They went into their respective boxes fully understanding their Maker’s purpose. They were then sent out to go and accomplish it. And through applying what they had been told, each one of them went on to become a success in their own ways. Some created masterpieces, others wrote books, others helped to store valuable information, and each one of them went on to change their world for the better in some way.
Each of us is like a pencil from this little story. And however childlike this little story may seem, there are lessons from it that we can learn. We too have been sent into the world by our Maker, and He has sent us with some instructions. Remember them, and you will become the best person that you can be!
One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in God’s hand.
Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, by going through various problems and difficulties, but it’s all to help you to become a stronger and better person.
Three: Never let your mistakes get you down. You have the ability to either correct your mistakes or grow through them.
Four: Everyone is different. Yet on the inside, we are all the same. By the same token, what you wear, what you look like, how you carry yourself are all of secondary importance. The most important part of you will always be what’s on the inside.
Five: On every surface you walk you must leave your mark. No matter what the situation, you should always leave a mark for good by doing the best that you can whenever and wherever you can. That is your mission. Remember, you were made to do great things!
(Excerpts of upcoming book: Allegories for Life)