Chris DeLine

Cedar Rapids, IA

Leave Your Mark

Published in Blog.

Do you recall which grade it was that you were first given the opportunity to use pens in school instead of pencils? I don’t remember which year it was for me, exactly, but I have a faint memory of it being a huge leap forward; it was as if those in charge had said “If you choose to do so, you’re now at an age where you’re free to leave a permanent mark on the world.”

I’ve never had the best form with my pen, and much of my life has been marred by periods where an eraser would have come in handy. But looking back, the periods which were dominated by unfortunate smudges and unintelligible chaos have ended up being the most important which I’ve lived through to this point.

My pen has been permanent in many ways I wish it wasn’t though, leaving marks on people’s lives in a disastrous manner, often causing an unthinkable amount of distress and harm. Occasionally time is able to fade or blur the remnant of the mark made, but without the ability to erase the mistake it is never able to completely disappear. I’m afraid that of all the victims however, my pen has done myself the most harm; a realization that I’m faced with every day.

At the same time you have to remember those initial directions: You have been given the freedom to take your pen and leave your mark on the world as you see fit. While the mark of a pen may be permanent, the story you write with it is never finished until you say so. The mark you made yesterday may in no way reflect the same intent or mindset as the mark you make today. And that’s okay. As frustrating, disappointing, and sometimes crushing as it is to live with the mistake made with your last stroke, you have to keep in mind that as long as you have the ability to wield a pen and the freedom to do so, it is up to you to decide what impact your next stroke has on the world.

If only pens came with instructions.