Am I the only person in the world that doesn’t know mechanical pencils have retractable lead?
Last week, I borrowed my husband’s mechanical pencil. We had just finished a discussion, and I took it from his Day Runner organizer that was open between us, to make some notes. Then I slipped it back in the pencil slot, done. He peered at me, reached over, took it out, and proceeded to retract the lead back into the blue plastic barrel. Then replaced it. I stared at it and him for a minute, and asked: “Did you just put the lead back into the pencil?” His simple three letter reply: “yes.” Surprised, I said, “really?” His response: “Yes … that’s part of what makes it a mechanical pencil … you put the lead back in.”
I began to laugh, and picking the pencil up again, proceeded to push the lead back in and click it out a number of times, marveling that I’m in my mid-forties, a writer, have many special pens, and even a few mechanical pencils of my own. Who knew the lead was retractable?! I wonder if it’s possible that I’m the only person who didn’t know! Then I really began to laugh, thinking a funny tweet on twitter would be: “Am I the only person that doesn’t know mechanical pencils have retractable lead?” My husband didn’t think that was quite as funny as I did, but that’s beside the point. I began an internal conversation about how much there still is to discover in life. In ordinary, simple things.
Later that night, I talked to my brother on the telephone, relaying my new learning about mechanical pencils. Yes, he already knew lead retracted. But, then he shared one with me: when he tells his daughters to dial up their friends, they don’t understand what he means–they don’t dial their friends, they push buttons to make a call. Their life experience hasn’t included rotary dial telephones. And, their calls are made on cellular telephones that aren’t attached to a wall by a cord!
The following day, as I still pondered mechanical pencils and dialing friends, I read about Google Wave, a new communications platform that will launch later this year. New technology and communications really capture my interest. (Which is part of the reason the whole retractable lead thing really is funny to me.) How we connect with one another, express ourselves, share our stories, and relate is really what my life is all about. Google Wave, and new ways to communicate will probably make pencils and cell phones seem obsolete in coming years. In fact, just hours ago I learned about Bing, a new decision-making search engine that launches into the world as I type. Change and learning erupts into our lives each day. We know what we know, we engage what captures our interest, and we can choose to learn and grow with new ideas, people, and places. And make good decisions and choices. Winds of change blow all the time. Which brings me to my final two thoughts.
Last night I ventured out for a bit of local night life in my small town. The Alaska state balladeer had a local gig, and shared a story about how his first big hit was released on a 33 R.P.M. His comment got me to thinking about lead pencils and telephones as he recalled how 33 R.P.M. recordings led to 45 R.P.M.’s, 8-Track tapes, cassettes, CD’s, and digital downloads. He shared a story about how he’d tossed quite a few cases of his 33 R.P.M.’s into the dumpster when 8-Tracks became popular … and how now those old albums now sell on E-Bay for 175.00 each! The question rose in me: Can we appreciate what we have in the here and now? And, carry that awareness into the future without tossing out what appears to no longer have any value? And, how do we determine when it is time to let go?
From a religious perspective I think an answer shows up today when Christians celebrate the annual Feast of Pentecost. In simple language, Pentecost means the day we celebrate the Holy Spirit coming to the apostles after the death of Jesus. So, what can this mean in the year of 2009? To me it relates to the way God continually surprises us in unexpected ways, and greets us in ordinary places and times. The Spirit of God invites up to live with open eyes, with a willingness to embrace creativity, the unexpected, and live with courageous authenticity. The Spirit of God continually greets us with “be not afraid.” How often are we stymied when we second guess our next best step, a new learning, tradition, or what we know to have value–to be true?
So, I ask you … where is it that you can experience something new in the ordinary, or through an invitation to grow beyond your comfort zone?