Slice of Life Tuesday: Life, in Metaphor

This post is part of the weekly Slice of Life challenge from Two Writing Teachers. Check them out!


Yesterday I had a GREAT idea for a blog post. I was starting to craft it in my head as I always do, until I got sidetracked.

Fast forward to this morning, when I got up and could not remember for the life of me what I wanted to write about. I racked my brain, trying to go back through my day yesterday to jog my memory.

Nothing.

So I started to think on what ELSE I could possibly blog about today, what subjects I could take on. They all seemed pale in comparison to the idea I had yesterday. None of them brought the same excitement.

To kill some time, I sat down with a crossword puzzle. I usually don’t enter a word unless I’m 100% sure it’s the answer. I’m the kind of gal who would rather leave things blank than track how far a mess-up went. Of course, I still make mistakes and need to erase them.

That’s when it hit me.

You see, just yesterday I was working on this same puzzle. Just yesterday I worked those squares, hoping for no major mess-ups. Just yesterday, I had one of those mess-ups, and had to rely on my trusty eraser to clean things up.

Only, I couldn’t.

You see, the pencil was old enough, and the eraser was unused enough, that it had hardened on the outside. Rather than deftly sweeping my shortcomings away in a pile of of rubber shavings, I just got a black blurry mess.

That got me thinking.

Erasers. We need them. They clean our messes, big and small. They give us a fresh start on things. Erasers let us take comfort in knowing we can take chances; there’s always a way out with an eraser.

But we can only begin erasing once we look at our paper, see something wrong and recognize it’s worth the time to fix it. Otherwise, we can plow ahead without worrying.1 And if we don’t use our erasers, if we’re not in the habit of recognizing and correcting errors, those erasers harden. They fall into disuse, and when we try to use them again they just leave a bigger mess behind.

And isn’t that the way of us humans? (C’mon, you saw where this was going, right?)2

We, too, have to be in regular practice of noticing our mistakes. We’ve got to be aware of times we leave messes that bear fixing. We’ve also got to take enough chances knowing we’ll mess up sometimes, knowing we may have to fix things. And if we don’t use those figurative erasers, if we fall out of the habit of recognizing where we’ve gone wrong and working to correct it, they3 will harden. And once we’ve fallen out of practice, it’s so much harder to admit mistakes – and SO much harder to find ways of making things better. 4 5 6

So yes, my friends, we need to keep our pencils sharp. But let’s also remember that pencils have another, worthy end.

“The average pencil is seven inches long, with just a half-inch eraser – in case you thought optimism was dead.” – Robert Brault


1 and sometimes you do skip errors because who has the time to make sure we’re always 100% error free?
2 yes, this is definitely proof that I live in metaphor and can’t ever shut it off
3 like our hearts
4 yes, i know that every metaphor breaks down at some point, including this one
5 and even the best eraser job leaves traces of the mistake that wasn’t there
6 I mean, we can’t just erase our mistakes with people – there are always echoes, right?

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9 Responses to “Slice of Life Tuesday: Life, in Metaphor”

  1. summer with monika Says:

    I’m glad you didn’t erase this thought-provoking post!

  2. Juliette Awua-Kyerematen Says:

    No. 6 is so right and must resonate with most of us. Does this make us careful in our relationships or dealings with others? Thanks for making us reflect.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      You’re right, Juliette. It’s probably the post for another blog post. How careful *should* we be in our dealings with others? Guessing much of that depends on context…

  3. arjeha Says:

    You mean you don’t use a pen when doing crosswords? I had to smile when I read about you not remembering your topic. Just wait. Give it 20 years. It doesn’t get better. If only we could totally erase our mistakes. Unfortunately, we can’t and we have to live with the repercussions whatever they may be.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Ha! I’m worried about 20 years from now knowing where memory is already. And. A pen during crossword puzzles. That takes its own brand of brave, a brave that I don’t quite possess…

  4. onathought Says:

    I love this so much. You had me at the start, when you were writing your post in your mind and then forgot it when it was time to write it down. That happens to me so very much. (That’s why I was only able to do a 6 word memoir, late, today!)

    And then the actual metaphor! So good. So true.We need erasers. And also — I can’t stand when an eraser gets old like that! It drives me crazy.. and always happens when I couldn’t find a pencil,finally found one, and then need to erase something. (Yes, I know that this wasn’t the point… the metaphor is the point … but still.. those erasers! )

  5. Tim Gels Says:

    In the top left corner of my parents’ desk, there’s a brand new box of 24 Ticonderoga pencils. More to the point, there’s a box of pencils with brand new erasers! I spent time there recently, and was surprised to find they had surprisingly few pencils in their house, and they apparently don’t make mistakes, because their erasers were just as you described. I, on the other hand, use pencils a lot, and make a lot of mistakes!

    While, as you say, it eventually breaks down, I enjoyed your metaphor and nodded my head up and down as I read through it. (I appreciate the supporting picture as well. 53 down might be “jut,” but then again, it might not. I’m a Sudoku guy myself.) The ability to erase is critical for me, but literally and metaphorically.

    Thanks for sharing this, Lainie — I appreciate it!

    BTW, I know I use parenthetical statements too much in my writing. Hmmm . . . footnotes. {smile}

  6. Raivenne Says:

    “…we need to keep our pencils sharp. But let’s also remember that pencils have another, worthy end.”

    As an artist and a writer I know this well. Very worthy indeed.

    The Brault quote and your ending bullet points are spot on.

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