Meaning of Life: Explained by a Pencil
Last summer, on one of the hotter days while I was on my way to Dadar station from Malad, I was lucky to secure a seat in the local Train. As soon as I sat, my eyes caught a lady, who might be in her forties, and was enmeshed in doodling something. Intrigued, at one point I went up to her and asked: “Hello! What are you drawing?” She stopped midway and told me: “I am drawing a sketch of a countryside setup, actually” From her creative composition, I could make out that she had exemplary drawing skills and that she was adept in her artwork. So I asked her since when has she been drawing, to which she replied that drawing has always been her forte but owing to a joint-family setup, she is not able to garner much time at home to devote to this pastime.
We soon started discussing about our lives, hobbies, famous painters, favourite eateries and at some point in between I realised that there was something about this lady, her simplicity, her positive and simple approach towards life that I was awed by. I was grateful to have the opportunity to talk to her. So the next instance I asked her “You seem to be very serene and content with life. Is there any secret formula behind it? Any learning from past hardships which you would like to share?” And then she told me this interesting parable about a pencil maker, which has got ingrained in my mind since then. She said “I have been drawing since many years, and a few years back one of my gurus passed this learning to me. He said-You maybe working on the finest sketches or signing a big deal, but the more important thing is the much-ignored pencil that you use in doing that. I pray you will be like this pencil when you grow up.”
My next obvious question to the lady was-“This pencil that you are holding in your hand seems like any other pencil I’ve ever seen! What makes it so special?”
She replied-“That depends on your perspective to things. This piece of pencil has six qualities which, if you manage to hang on, will make you a person who will always be at peace with the world.”
1. What is meaningful, lies inside of you. Remember, looks can be deceptive. Just as in the case of a pencil, the graphite or lead inside and not the dead wooden exterior is what really matters, similarly, always pay attention to and value what is happening inside you. You are an eternal soul inhabiting an impermanent body. Always remain grounded and connected with your deepest self, the soul. Go beyond the realm of the external and dwell on what lies within you.
2. Every action of yours will always leave a mark. A pencil always leaves a particular mark. Similarly, never be afraid to draw your specific line and live your life to the fullest. Discover and execute your true calling and purpose. Try to be conscious of your every action because each step taken by you will leave a certain mark.
3. You will always get a chance to correct the mistakes you make. You’ll most certainly make mistakes in the journey of life, but the best part is there is always a chance, an opportunity to mend them. Just like every error made by a pencil can be corrected immediately with an eraser, in the same way, listen to your conscience, erase, correct the scars and rewrite. Go ahead and correct your mistakes truthfully, and do learn from them.
4. No pain, No gain. The pencil teaches a useful lesson to stop often to sharpen your mind, body, and spiritual practice. Every once in a while, you too will undergo painful sufferings, which will only make you better and useful. Only then can you become focused enough to present the best versions of yourselves. Learn to regenerate regularly, both physically and mentally.
5. To be the best pencil you must allow yourself to be guided by the all-powerful hand that holds you. Can any pencil make a beautiful sketch or draw a construction plan by itself? Can any pencil write a poem on its own? Its only when it’s in the hands of a trustworthy expert, can a pencil do justice to its intended purpose and make an incredible impact on the world. You must always let others access you for the many gifts you possess and never think that life is insignificant or that it cannot be changed. Be humble and never forget the hand that guides you. Just as the pencil is never proud or boastful, thinking how it has written a book or drawn a million dollar painting, so must you be willing to surrender your lives in the hands of the higher self.
6. Too much pressure can be detrimental. Just as forceful writing with a pencil can break its lead and render it non-functional; too much pressure can do much harm to your body- physically, mentally and emotionally. Enjoy life’s little pleasures and sail through smoothly. When in stress, take a deep breath and relax.
“’So, my dear friend, dwell on these six lessons of the pencil and think daily about my gift to you.”