I’m currently sat at my desk in a small study that we are privileged to have at our home.
To the side of me is a bookcase which is full of books of all shapes and sizes. There are technical books, books about fasting, books of stories, books with new words and books with ancient words.
In front of me there is a magazine full of colourful pictures, it even has a pull-out section with the picture of a huge tree on it. There are men climbing the tree who look like small dolls compared to the enormous trunk.
Next to the magazine is a pile of paper that is demanding my attention, on the top there is a letter from the bank.
On the other side of the magazine is a box with some medication in it, the instructions on the side tell me the safe way to take it. The printing on the silver coating inside tells me what it is.
Behind the magazine at the far edge of the desk is a black cup-shaped receptacle in it are pens of all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours.
I’m expecting that soon a man in a red uniform will pass the window of my study followed soon after by a rattling of the letterbox as he deposits today’s delivery.
All this is made possible by ink.
Next to my laptop is a printer, all I have to do is to click a few times and it will whir into action delivering sheets of words and diagrams.
In my pocket is a wallet which contains a bank note
For thousands of years people have processed different materials from plant, minerals and even animals to enable them to make a lasting mark on a surface. There’s a long list of wonderfully sounding substances; alizarin, indigo, pokeberries, cadmium, cochineal, carmine, sepia, vermillion, saffron and many more.
When I was young I used to hate ink. I’m left handed and being from a culture that writes from left to right that meant my hands were constantly scrubbing the yet to dry marks that I had just made. I remember one particular maths teacher who insisted that everyone use a fountain pen, but he was also a stickler for neatness, I found it impossible to put these two things together. Even though I loved maths, I detested the lessons. It wasn’t until my second year of secondary school that a teacher spent some time with me showing me how to hold my hand in such a way that it didn’t constantly smudge my work.
Lord Byron wrote these words:
But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think;
Most mornings I take some time to sit with a bible and a notebook. From one I read the dew drops of ancient wisdom passed down through millennia of ink. Into the other I write a portion of that wisdom in my own hand and contribute to it some meagre thoughts of my own. My aim is to change my thinking by taking that ancient and yet wholly relevant wisdom and making it my own. Similar practice will be followed by millions of people around the world today.
Something happens when we write things out, they become solidified. I think that’s what the writer of the Proverbs meant when they said:
Dear friend, do what I tell you;
treasure my careful instructions.
Do what I say and you’ll live well.
My teaching is as precious as your eyesight—guard it!
Write it out on the back of your hands;
etch it on the chambers of your heart.
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