I have this thing with pens. I use them. A lot. Since I’m a journaller, I typically have 1-2 favorite pens that I only use for that. It’s not unusual for me to actually run out of ink with one of these pens, and I consider it a triumph akin to running a marathon when I do.

For Valentine’s Day, Carolyn gave me a 2-pack of this Sharpie pen that I’m now using happily with my journal. The story of how that happened is worth telling – but only in person. I’ve been successful this week in retelling it a couple of times, and it gets longer and funnier with the retelling (at least I laugh as I tell it).

A pen is really a gift that is able by its bearer to keep on giving. In this day of digital triviality, our words are typed or pecked out with such thoughtlnessness that they’re little more than alphabetic noise.

Using a pen, however, forces me to slow down, to think, and to enjoy the process of communicating. In fact, I find myself crafting not just my words but even working on how I write – my pensmanship – simultaneously with the message I’m crafting. In the Middle Ages, scribes would laboriously create stunning works of art with illuminated texts. Their careful intricacy leant weight to the message they copied or wrote.

Not so with copyists of 2011. We peck out things on a keyboard, make sure that our software gives it a spell-check “all clear” and print, click “submit,” or “update” and we’re done.

That’s why the pen is a gift that coaxes its recipient to go deeper in life. A pen in the hand draws more than lines on paper. It draws out real thoughts, forces us to crock-pot rather than microwave our musings for more enjoyable fare.

Part of the longer story is that Carolyn bought me a “Le Pen” the day before, but its slimmish skinniness made me uncomfortable. She thought that was ridiculous, but I like a little more bulk in my Bic. I’ve got one pen that also has a little flashlight on the other other end. Novelty never hurts. So the Sharpie became a great gift.

My first assignment with it? A Valentine’s Day love letter to its giver.

On this day...

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