ILLUMINATION
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ILLUMINATION

What writing with pen and paper teaches you about life

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Writing on paper has some type of magic to it. Feeling the texture of the sheet of paper gently rub below your hand as you maneuver your wrist in intricate yet subtle gestures to form letters, then words, then sentences and eventually entire stories. The act can be as mundane or as emotional as you wish, depending on what it is you are writing. For us left-handed, writing on paper becomes a task of not just writing, but also attempting to keep the rest of your hand from smudging what you have just wrote.

You also avoid straining your eyes with blue light, unlike when you write on a tablet or type on a computer keyboard. And as good as technology can get trying to mimic pen and paper with an iPad and an Apple Pencil, it hasn’t quite got the feeling, the intimacy of writing with physical ink.

However, yesterday as I was writing down some things on my notebook, I noticed something particular about the whole experience. I ended up realizing just how similar life is to writing with a pen.

You see, when you write something down manually, you are letting your mind communicate. This is quite obvious; what you write about has got to come from somewhere. However, you are also, more unconsciously, making a string of decisions. Every upward, downward, side-to-side or circular motion that your hand makes with the pen is carefully dictated by your brain, at a specific moment, in a structured order, to form letters and words. Nonetheless, this writing ability is by no means perfect. In fact, I would dare to say that it is fragile, easily tricked and startled by distractions that arise both in our thoughts and in our surroundings.

Say you are writing a love letter — pouring your heart out, expressing every emotion within you — when suddenly, unexpectedly, you misspell a word.

The rush you get inside you at that moment feels like if you’ve just committed some sort of crime. Your carefully written love letter becomes smeared by a simple mistake. No matter how much liquid corrector you soak the sheet with, how many miles of tape corrector you run through or how much you rub that blue side of the “magic” eraser you have from all the way back in school, there is no way to hide the fact that you made a mistake.

You think to yourself, “I’ll start again, no big deal.” To make matters worse, you are greeted with emptiness the moment you reach for a new sheet of paper, discovering that you have run out of clean sheets. All you are left with is the same sheet of paper filled with enchanting words, yet a hideous mistake that takes all the attention.

With no other option, you finish the letter. It is still a beautiful letter, with a direct one-way ticket to your crush’s heart. Yet, it doesn’t feel the same anymore; it feels dirty, imperfect, as if your best effort had not been enough.

Photo by Matt Duncan on Unsplash

The sheet of paper with the love letter resembles life. It is filled with experiences, people, and feelings that make it beautiful — a captivating story for anyone to read. You, on the other hand, are the pen. The pen goes on writing the story on the sheet of paper, giving shape to it with every decision that you make, every circumstance you go through.

Every so often, we make decisions that are a little less than ideal. Those are the misspellings on our story. Whether it is something we regret, something we wish we had done, an interaction we would like to change, it is done, and that’s that. No matter how hard you try to erase it, the ink will always still be at least slightly visible. It is that “permanent” factor that makes the story continue, no matter how many mistakes you make. You cannot go back in time and change what is done.

Yes, there are cases where you can mend your mistakes. Sometimes apologizing works, and things can go back to how they were just before. Other times you can replace some material thing that you lost, or give a new use or purpose to something that you damaged. However, there are times when the fuck-up is so intense, so pronounced, that no matter what you do, there’s no way to fix it. Remember, there’s no erasing pen ink.

That is the continuity of your life. Like a road that seems to go on forever, the only way is forward. Your story will go on, defined by the ups and downs on your sheet of paper.

There is, I think, one fundamental difference between writing with a pen and life, and that is that mistakes are not always a bad thing. In fact, more often than not, mistakes are the start of a new chapter of the story. That scribble you are worrying about could potentially be the start of the most beautiful illustration of your story if you are willing to see it from another perspective. That misspelling could lead to the start of a new narrated adventure that completely switches you story’s plot.

See, that continuity is undoubtedly going to be there; what makes a difference is how we approach it. As cliché as it sounds, that phrase we always hear throughout media, going somewhere along the lines of “it’s not about how you fall, but about how you get back up” has got some truth to it. You are the one holding the pen, your life’s pen; therefore you are the one who decides what happens in your story. Remember, there are no more sheets of paper, so there’s no starting over. It is on you whether that unexpected wrist twitch causes a calamity, or it leads to the greatest climax ever seen in literature.

This article was the result of one of those explosive thought moments that stem off from something so dull, yet end up in a great realization or even a new motto. Occasionally, those endless lines of thought can lead to creations like this, or they can sometimes take a different route, tormenting our minds. For those in the second scenario, I leave this article I wrote about dealing with troubling thoughts or emotions:

Feel free to leave your opinion in the comments or share this with someone you’d think might enjoy it. Thank you and happy reading!

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figueredoc

figueredoc

From Colombia. I write about the things and ideas that help you and me become better people. Chat with me on Instagram @figueredoc

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