Decluttering with Astrid (10)

This week Astrid reflects on her grandfather’s pencil. Each Tuesday, she writes about decluttering. 

This post is actually more about my grandfather. Let’s start with this: in all honesty, have you ever had a pencil that you sharpened right to the point that it was merely a stump? Right to the stage that it basically wasn’t a pencil anymore? I haven’t. I mean, I just go to the supermarket and buy myself a new box of ten pencils for 99 euro cents. But not my grandfather. No, my grandfather, who was a furniture maker, did have such a pencil. And I found that pencil to be one of the finest things in his workshop. Because a carpenter’s pencil tells a story about all the times it has been sharpened with a knife, and all the times it has marked measurements on wood. And also because such a thing belonged to him. You could see that this little pencil was used with great attention and that, for him (unlike with me), something as “simple” as a pencil was not a throwaway item.

Recently, I spotted exactly such a pencil in the pencil case of my colleague Caroline. Seeing this made me realize: Why must everything be immediately replaced or replenished over and over again? And how much nicer is a pencil that is able to do its job till the very end? In fact, it also made me realize that I want to have such a pencil too; one that is my own, that is totally unique, and that tells stories about me.

It’s also been helpful to look at all my stuff from this perspective. Sure, my oven is a little beaten up, but it still works, so why the need for a new one? And yes, those new fancy scissors are much nicer than my current ones, but the old ones slice through things just fine. In fact, you could even say that my blender, with its discoloured plastic and tired look, now has a retro status, but I got it from my parents and it blends to perfection, so who cares.

It’s not necessary to replace everything, to supplement stuff, and to accumulate things. What you have is often sufficient or satisfactory enough. And, not least, often has a story to tell. And that begins with your pencil 😉

Week 10 “The pencil”