I’ve just discovered an old pen. Not just any old pen, a very special pen. The discovery of this pen has brought up so much this morning it’s been quite an eye opener.
It began as I wrote my morning journal yesterday. Not many people can say that they actually throw away pens when they are used up. Most people throw them down and just pick up another one, when they clear their desks they bundle all the pens into the boxes or the draws where their pens are kept. But yesterday I actually put this one in the bin, aware that it was finished, it had come to the end of its usefulness. I don’t know why this stuck in my mind, but it did. All day I kept thinking about it. It was the strangest experience.
I imagined that the pen had out lived its time and had been put in the wrong bin, maybe I should have bought refills and tried to extend the pens life. I remember finding a really good pen once. It was a delight to hold and the grip was perfect. The Biro end was perfect, it didn’t glob nor stick and I never had to retrace the lines because it had stopped writing. I went back to the shop where I had bought it to be told that they didn’t do refills, it was disposable and so I disposed of this pen, not even trying to find a refill.
I found it’s replacement yesterday in a draw in the dining room. My house is full of pens of various sizes and colours and shapes. I must be one of the few people that still buys pens, most people just pick them up. They are given a pen free when they sign up to some obscure club. They collect them from promotional packs of cereal. They come by them when they sign things and put them in their pockets. Taking a pen isn’t considered theft, its acquisition. Something everyone does without thinking. Just imagine how many pens you have floating around and how many you actual went into a shop and bought for yourself. Not many I dare say. The buying of pens is up to people like myself who constantly write freehand.
The pen I got out yesterday finished my journal and I left it on the table. It had served its purpose. This morning I started to write and I wasn’t satisfied with the pen, it had a scratchy feeling, it was rough and it kept blanking out, which meant I had to retrace the letters over and over. The pen was a disaster waiting to happen. I was bold in my action and threw this one into the bin as well. Throwing away two pens in as many days for me is just unheard of. Pens are my tools, they are sacrosanct and as such are cared for and kept until I am sure they no longer serve their purpose.
I know there are pens in the bottom of my bag, in fact there are pens in every bag I own. Some women have lippy, some hand cream, I have pens. I was determined to use a pen that would be better than the previous one and so I delved into the bottom of a draw in my Welsh Dresser. I was pleasantly surprised to find a prize beyond expectation.
At school, we had to learn how to first write in pencil and then when we could string words together to the satisfaction of the teacher, we were allowed to use ink pens. It wasn’t until we went to senior school that we could use Biros. It didn’t matter so much back then, we were encouraged to use blue ink but black was acceptable. Bic was the in brand. If you had money you had a Parker pen, which always came in a smart case. Mine had been silver, bought for me by my mother from a jeweller. There was no WH Smith spilling out Parkers willy nilly back then. Owning a Parker pen was special. I was one of the privileged.
When I began work, the copier era began. Everything was photocopied. It had to be sent to the Printers to be done, but if any hand writing hadn’t been completed in black ink it didn’t show up, and so the blue pens were set aside for black.
I picked out the two pens from the draw, a black roller ball and a silver cased pen. There she was, my Parker. Long forgotten and covered in things belonging to my husband. You know the type of things, cables and old empty bottles, instruction booklets for long ago disposed of gadgets, widgets that you only surmise must have a purpose, otherwise why does he keep them. Picking up the silver pen I realised it was a Parker. Not my original, this one I had bought as a reminder of my childhood. This one had come in a blister pack a few years ago, bought in WH Smith. But it was still a Parker and to those of us of a certain age, that means something.
I clicked the pen, feeling the smooth action of the spring inside compress as the ball point appeared from the end of the silver casing. I placed the pen to paper and was disappointed for nothing more than a split second. The ink flowed even and precisely onto the page, but it was blue. It had been so long since I’d seen ink this colour that I had forgotten how bright it was and how much it lightened up the words. It gives each letter a different perspective. The black lines and curves that made up my letters forming the words of my journal came to life. The rolling action of the ball point evenly spreading the ink, my handwriting becoming even and almost artistic in its classic English Form.
I was about to set it to one side as it wasn’t black, but then I felt a release that opened up not only my penmanship but also a flood of ideas that lit the page and my imagination.
I am as a Pen. I have been placed in a case for so long. The rollerball of my life has become scratchy and intermittent. Missing occasionally, not forming the letters in one smooth stroke. Having to repeat the strokes that make up each fashioned line and curve on the page that is my life.
What if I changed. What if I spent just a little bit of time to look for me. Would I find that I am like the Parker? Worth more than a throw away pen, worth more than a scratchy second hand acquired item. Something that I have spent a bit more money and time and effort on. Would my life run smoother? Would the life blood that flows through me as ink flows through the roller ball, be more fluid? And what of the dark colour that I have adapted to. The black ink being the dark monochrome life that I have begun to accept as the norm. What if I changed, what if I used a different colour to spell out my wants, my dreams my aspirations.
Changing Pens has given me an insight. Its funny how something so trivial that has been put away and hidden below other people’s things has brought to life a new feeling with in me. Have I been hidden for so long that it has taken this small thing to open up my eyes?
New Pen, New Page, maybe even a New Way of looking at my Life.