I spend a great deal of my time alone in my downstairs office. It is a little too cold down there at all seasons of the year. It is both quiet and noisy (with air vents flowing all around me.) But it is my space and I get deep into my own things there.
Some days, I’m highly motivated and effective. I push hard in all directions and get things done. Other days, I sift through my 20 different pencil types and pick ones to sharpen.
Sharpening these pencils has become, over the years, a meditative practice. One that begins my day as I lay out 5 or 6 that I’ll run through in morning thoughts jotted in my notebook or in my various client meetings I try to hold throughout the day.
When the stack of pencils are all equally worn into rounded tips (I don’t let them get too far from a fine point as I am a stickler for clear, thin lines), I take a few minutes and sharpen them all again. I enjoy that cutting crunch sound of the thin layers of wood being shaved off the lightening cone. I like taking it out of the sharpener and giving it a quick puff of breath, removing the graphite dust from the tip.
Then I return to focus (usually) and attempt to get back to it.
Because of this pencil lust that I have, I’ve become a bit of a nerd about it. I sometimes find myself looking at online sites, imaging the feel of some vintage Japanese Tombow or a classic Dixon. My favorite though, is the Viking Skoleblyanten HB. They and I have found a type of peace together.
A little retail therapy over the last two days. I was stressed about things and was feeling pretty low down on the confidence scale, so I ordered a few new pencils. Stupid purchase and it really doesn’t alter my life in anyway - except for the joy that it sneaks to me.
If you want to make me happy, there are simple, small things like this that can send me over the top. Give me the opportunity to take a nice long, quiet walk in the woods. Ask me to sharpen a handful of dull pencils (my kids give me this pleasure task a few times a week). Or, give me a new pencil. One that I haven’t seen before, one I haven’t written with before.
It is like wine. I get to cut its skin, smell the wood underneath. Inspect the point. Rub it lightly across paper to determine its coloring, its gritty grab on the paper. Then I work through a few paragraphs, a chart, some lines, a drawing. I then spend some time determining where within my pencil cups it sits. Does it become a daily use pencil, or one that I take out when things are really tough - when I’m stuck on something and need to put some tactile pressures on my mind. Either place within the cannon works, they each have their love and their joys.
The dailies are my go to’s (obviously). I comfort them every morning, sharpening throughout the day. I need more of these as I burn through them every few weeks. The others, the specials are the ones that can last me years. They are reserved for the really special writing.
I sound like a complex person. It is no wonder that I get nothing done.
Pulling back on the state of the union tonight (this was put down on paper a few weeks back). As of 7pm - no Twitter (obsession), Washington Post (enjoyment/journalism), and TV broadcasts (tends to be CNN only because I want to destroy everything else). It is either USA Today middle of the road, which gets me to scream ‘pick a side’ or too much of one side or the other. Even CNN has become a bit of a parody account at this point. At least when it pertains to talking heads around a table. It is why I like print journalists. At the very least they have to write something which is hard work. I can run my mouth off all day everyday, even after a long night out, but I cannot put words down on demand. That will always carry more weight with me.
Twitter is the big beast with me. Just a quick scan of my feed and my stomach is burning and boiling. It is pure bile that serves little purpose other than the production and distribution of said bile.
Found this article on planting yourself using a historic forest for your final rest. As I get older and spend more time considering the fact that I will eventually die, I see planting a part of my genetic make-up within the trees as being a good thing. This makes me think of salmon DNA being found in trees where bears leave partially eaten spawning carcasses. They dissolve into the soil, their genetic traces being left to the tall, ancient trees.
This also makes me think of all of my digital content that would disappear forever if I do not have a plan for it. Dropbox, DevonThink, Byword and countless journals and little pieces of paper that could eventually end up in the dumpster. Maybe I should consider a catalogue of these things so that my boys will have access to it all. It is private now but won’t matter once my particles are swimming around the inside of the trees. Which would be the greater legacy?
Well worth a listen.