Monday, January 19, 2009

The Story of the Pencil

A boy was watching his grandmother write a letter. At one point, he asked:
"Are you writing a story about what we've done? Is it a story about me?"

His grandmother stopped writing her letter and said to her grandson:
"I am writing about you, actually, but more important than the words is the pencil I'm using. I hope you will be like this pencil when you grow up."

Intrigued, the boy looked at the pencil. It didn't seem very special.
"But it's just like any other pencil I've ever seen."

"That depends on how you look at things. It has five qualities which, if you manage to hang on to them, will make you a person who is always at peace with the world.

"First Quality: you are capable of great things, but you must never forget that there is a hand guiding your steps. We call that hand God, and He always guides us according to His will.

"Second Quality: now and then, I have to stop writing and use a sharpener. That makes the pencil suffer a little, but afterwards, he's much sharper. So you, too, must learn to bear certain pains and sorrows, because they will make you a better person.

"Third Quality: the pencil always allows us to use an eraser to rub out any mistakes. This means that correcting something we did is not necessarily a bad thing; it helps to keep us on the road to justice.

"Fourth Quality: what really matters in a pencil is not its wooden exterior, but the graphite inside. So always pay attention to what is happening inside you.

"Finally, the pencil's Fifth Quality: it always leaves a mark. In just the same way, you should know that everything you do in life will leave a mark, so try to be conscious of that in your every action."

Paulo Coelho
Like The Flowing River (page 10-11)
HarperCollinsPublishers, London


This is a fantastic book by Paulo Coelho. I recommend those who loves philosophy and humanity to spent time reading this book.

Like The Flowing River is an intimate collection of Paulo Coelho's reflection and short stories. The stories relates to the philosophy of life, our destiny and choices, of love and his thoughts and reflections that explores the journey of life in search of its true meanings.

Other good books from Paulo Coelho are: The Alchemist, The Pilgrimage, Eleven Minutes and The Zahir. Some of the other books that did not interest me are: The Fifth Mountain, Veronika Decides to Die, The Devil and Miss Prym, Manual of the Warrior of Light, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept and Valkyries.

I have yet to read "The Witch of Portobello" which I bought on 14th September 2007. I will finish it by this week.



Anonymous said...

To buy or not to buy? Depend on whether given bonus or not. At the meantime, hardwork and work hard w/ passion & determination. he...he...he.! - Mmudahlupa

agnos said...

to use a pencil to illustrate life is something new :-) but the point mentioned is valid...

is the book easy to read, mav? i like philosophy but some are so dry and iterates and the point given are at best "philosophical" and once u put down the book u still need to face the harsh reality of this world... sigh...

Maverick SM said...


If you have to wait for bonus to buy books, I suggest to you that it would be far wiser to save it and keep it.


This book is easy read and basically are short stories of life's experience of Paulo.

toolan said...

Good 5 pointer of life, not many people can really live up to it though.....sad to say!
But anyway, life goes on and here's wishing you and your family a Prosperous, Healthy Chinese New Year!
Gong Hei Fatt Choy!
Sun Thai Kin Hong!
Boh boh ke-ooh sing!

Maverick SM said...


Gong Xi Fa Chai!

seefei said...

Interesting book. Will pop by the library this evening.

Kong Hei Fatt Choy!

Maverick SM said...

See Fei,

It is a good read!