The Pen Box I Carried - Jeremy Xue '18

“I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.” -Henry David Thoreau, Walden

When I came to this world, I was a bare infant. God hadn’t made any external things except for my soul and body; I didn’t carry anything. Nevertheless, when I was growing up, I ceaselessly created things for myself to carry. They exerted more burden on my mind and magnified the complexity of life. Losing ease and happiness, I told myself: “I need simplicity.”

Like Thoreau’s three chairs, simplicity should be limited by the need. Anything beyond it create redundancy. If three chairs are enough for life, one more chair will just create space for those who are unnecessary. Once there are four people in the house, maybe some others will come to have a group discussion. Will there be enough chairs and space for everyone? Probably not. Then, more chairs and a larger house will be needed. Thoreau knows that it is everlasting, so he pursues simplicity. Carrying things beyond the need will create more futile things to hump. His idea arouses my sympathy; but initially, what I wanted to do was to carry more.

Wherever I go, I always carry a pen box with me in case I need to write something. This is a habit that developed in elementary school when I learned how to write. At that time, I could never stop writing because it is so fascinating for me. I would like to write each character in different colors to express my enthusiasm. To satisfy this hobby, I carried a case filled with color pens and pencils. Teachers appreciated my attitude and my parents kept buying pens to encourage me to write. My collection was accumulating and the size of the pen box was enlarging. Holding the pen box with my slender arm, my body inclined; I was almost unable to resist the weight of that box. The pen box that I carried was overwhelming; but I insisted to carry because I was carrying my hobby and dream.

In the second grade, I still carried that pen box to school, even though I was required to write in a single color. My friend admired me and the pen box that I carried, which was filled with colorful pens. That box brought me a predominant feeling; I enjoyed to see the envy and jealousy in their eyes. The thing that I carried was not only a pen box, but also the vanity. One day, the teacher asked the class to draw different shapes and fill the inside with colors, but no one in the class except me had color pens and pencils. I was happy to lend them mine, as it generated the sense of superiority. However, because the pens had not been used for several months, the ink had already dried up. I could not remember how my classmates looked at that time, or I daren’t see their face. I could imagine them laughing derisively at me. When I received the pens back, I dumped them in the trash can, as well as the pen box and vanity. I thought in my little mind that I ought not to carry useless things. I finished the drawing with a pencil and filled in the inside with different lines. It was the first time I noticed the importance of simplicity. I had to carry something useful.

Several days later I began to carry a multi-function pen box. A compass, rulers, erasers, and pens were stored in four different sections within the box. After several days of use, I started to realize that the stationeries that came with the pen box were not advanced enough; the rulers didn’t even have angle measures on them. I went to store and got the one I wanted, but the size didn’t fit the pen box. I revisited there and found one with the right size but pink color. I started to carry burdens in my mind, the heavy load of perfection deprived the ease and happiness in life. I could not focus on my studies anymore but thinking about the functions of the new pen box that I needed to get. The pen box that I carried made my life complex.

In elementary school and middle school, I always sought out for a perfect pen box with perfect stationeries. But after ten years of studying, I started to be aware that I have never used compasses or angle measures again. The things that I need to carry are just a pen box with a pencil, a black pen and a red marker. Carrying a pen box even seems to be useless. I tell myself: “I need to get rid of the redundancy and carry simplicity.” I carry three pens with different colors in my pen box now; one for creation, two for preparation, and three for correction.