it's all about me · remembering / musing

Of coloured pencils and fugitive moments

coloured pencils, fugitive moments, musings, why I write, boomers, midlife, fifty-something, memories

Being fifty-something, I love to scrutinise the past for “pivotal” moments – those points in time when something changed. Or you changed. Or the world changed.

There are the biggies you can draw a line beneath and from then on everything (Every. Thing.) falls above or below, before or after. But sometimes the moment is more fugitive: an ephemeral kind of flashback that holds you intermittently hostage until you realise its significance. Finally.

This is my fugitive moment …

When I was eight, on a chilly July morning, I stood towards the back of an all-school assembly, staring down at my skinny purple-with-the-cold legs. I was painfully shy (yes, it actually hurt) and I almost always looked down. It was my default view of the world.

When my name was called to collect a prize for a story I’d penned about our family dog, I blushed. Deep red. With such force that my purple legs possibly shaded to pink.

My head shouted “no” but something deep inside pushed my body to carry me to the front of the WHOLE school where the principal pressed a tiny cardboard package into my palm.

Back at my safe spot, I allowed myself to glimpse down and see in my hand a petite packet of coloured pencils. You know the ones … mini-sized, half a dozen to a packet.

I could smell the freshness of the pencil wood.

I took a chance and prised open the packet so I could run my fingers over the six sharp points.

Each one in turn.

In that single, fugitive, ordinary moment, I decided to be a writer.

That’s when I first connected writing with feeling good.

It took me another twenty years to do anything about it and another twenty years again before I recaptured my fugitive moment as part of exploring my “why I do what I do” story.

It took another story to tie it all together.

I still blush.

I’m still shy in a crowd.

I still love the fresh, woody smell of new coloured pencils.

And I still want to be a writer.

6 thoughts on “Of coloured pencils and fugitive moments

  1. Really wonderful memoir. I enjoyed not only the memory and the turning moment, but also the sharpness of your prose. So spare and full of forward motion. I, myself, tend to parenthetical messes in sentences and appreciate your craft. Glad I found you.

  2. Ah well – my pivotal moment came when I was about 6 and after a year at school had learnt painfully to recognise and pronounce out words. I was travelling home with my mother on a crowded bus after visiting an aunt and passing the time by carefully reading loudly from a book. Perhaps my mother nudged me not to disturb other passengers, and perhaps I just wanted to know ‘what happened’, so I shut my mouth and kept reading – discovering with delight that I COULD read silently. That memory has stayed with me and I still love reading and have done so all my life.

    1. I love your story, Sandra! Thanks for sharing it here. I’ve never thought much about the moment of discovering the capacity to read silently. Amazing what sticks with each of us, isn’t it? S. 🙂

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