Sharpening Pencils

Sharpening Pencils

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

The most important lessons that school can teach you are seldom part of the curriculum.


Drawing a line, my pencil lead snapped; perhaps some weakness with the graphite, perhaps some tension in the hand spanning aeons in the making. I turned to the sharpener and looked out of the window, across a grey London skyline and was transported back in time, to a dimly lit classroom overlooking a miserable playground full of bruised knees, half-looks and thugs.


As the wood shavings coiled away from my hand, I remembered trying to make them as long as I could, every twist a game of jeopardy that ended in a broken curl or a snapped point. 


Alone now, as then, I wondered how the potential within that pencil could narrow to such a point that to draw a line was a balance between success and failure; between being profound and just another smudge. 


I wondered how my own life had narrowed to such a point that I became afraid to draw another line; afraid that if I did, I could never find a point that would last.


© Jack Leonard 2021

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Jack Leonard lives in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, with his wife and two daughters where he runs nature-connection services and writing workshops in the great outdoors. He has lived in other places too but mainly inside his own head. Writing is a way of stopping it from getting too crowded in there.

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  • This is definitely not "just another smudge." Love this.

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