2016 Alumnae Essay Winner
Each year since 1919 the alumnae of the Academy of the Sacred Heart have awarded a senior who writes the best essay on a given topic. At the Mother/Daughter Senior Luncheon in May, the Alumnae Association honors the winning senior who presents the essay.
If you had a day to spend as you wish, how would you use your time?
My back would be stiff from standing straight all night long in the bottom of a backpack or in a cup on a teacher’s desk. The morning sun would wake me up and suddenly I would be filled with wonder for what tasks I would be commanded to complete. People would rush in as I remain still hoping someone creative picks me up.
If I had a day to spend as I choose, I would not wish to sleep in, get my favorite breakfast, or go to my favorite place on earth, because I can do that anyway. And I will most likely do that this Saturday. If I had a day to spend as I choose, then I would choose the impossible. I would want to be a pencil. Why would I want to be a 5 inch long piece of wood that is greatly underappreciated or often replaced with a plastic mechanical one? Well, the pencil is the most important utensil of our time. At the hands of many talented individuals, there is the pencil they used for their first drafts of a speech, a blue print, or the design for technology. The pencil connects the mind and the heart with paper. It turns ideas into reality.
Perhaps a passionate citizen picks me up and begins to draft a petition to the government to fix the streets in New Orleans. He grips me tight and uses me to put down his angry thoughts into visible words. I write about his damaged car and the frustration many other drivers feel as they swerve on the city streets to avoid pot holes and sudden speed bumps. Just as one of those cars would be air born after hitting a speed bump, the determined citizen lifts me up for a brief second to gather his thoughts before I slam down on the page once more. I swiftly move from right to left across the 8 ½ width paper. But of course that is just a possibility that I could end up in that man’s hands.
Suppose I find myself in the pencil drawer of a Pre-Kindergarten classroom. The bell rings and the kids are asked to find something to write with as they begin practicing writing their name for the 10th time this week. Jessica can barely fit her hand into the pencil drawer before she chooses me to be her pencil. She holds me with her entire fist as she begins to draw the ‘J’ from the top of the blue line, through the dashed one, all the way to the red line. Man, I missed handwriting paper. Then Jessica writes ‘e’ with ease before she grips me really tight to begin the ‘s’s. Noo! She draws her first ‘s’ backwards, I try to stop her but I have no control over my wooden body. She begins the second ‘s’ but the teacher stops to help her before she can finish. After being corrected, Jessica rewrites her name. She does this pretty flawlessly for a pre-kindergartener; I’m glad I was able to be a part of her success.
These would be wonderful experiences, except what if I belong to Mr. Boudreaux for a day. He tucks me behind his sweaty ear as he leans under the Johnson’s sink to fix a leak. Mr. Boudreaux is a plumber. I am used to jot down some notes about the quality of the pipes and the severity of the leak, but mostly, I am used to sit under a mat of hair on top of his right ear as an accessory; I make him look more professional. As he climbs back into his van, he notices something stuck in a crevice of his steering wheel, instead of ignoring it, he picks ME up and uses the tip of me (the pencil) to un-jam whatever it is. My tip breaks and he hopelessly throws me on the floor of his van. I sure don’t want to be his pencil again.
What if I were a special pencil though? Not just any old #2 yellow stick that somebody neglected and put in their junk drawer in the kitchen. What if someone really treasured me? Sergey picks me up and presses me against the canvas as he sketches out his next masterpiece. He is drawing a koi fish for his next art show. We spend hours together as he draws the most beautiful picture. I am twisted side to side and held at different angles to shade the fish and add texture to the intended image. My eraser has become a short little knob and I have been sharpened and dulled all day long. I am not longer 5 inches, but rather 1 inch long. I may not have much graphite left to use and my eraser is nonexistent, but Sergey, the artist cherished me as his best pencil.
Why would I want to be a pencil on a day off? Humans share something in common and that is our need for pencils. We use them to scribble our thoughts, erase ideas, put our desires into words, and we even break them when were mad or use them to hold up our hair. I want to be at the hands of those artists, entrepreneurs, poets, song writers, and parents filling out their first child’s school forms to attend Sacred Heart. In these first drafts, in these erasable moments, we find the heart of people.