One of the things that we have a ton of at our house are crayons. Many families have entire cupboards, drawers and boxes for their crayons. In quarantine, these have come in quite handy to help foster imagination in children and help give Mom or Dad a breather. These simple items are powerful. There is something very understated about these magical items – and some adults forget – the simple lessons of crayons.
Before we look at these simple lessons though, I want to talk about a crayon book.
No I don’t mean a colouring book…
The book is titled “The Day the Crayons Quit”, written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated superbly by Oliver Jeffers.
If you have not read this book, pick it up, borrow it from a friend or your local library or download it from your favourite online book store. The story follows poor Duncan who just wants to colour with his crayons, but all he finds upon opening his crayon box is a package of letters from his crayons telling him about the problems going on in the crayon box.
Blue loves all the airplanes, whales and rivers it gets to colour, but being Duncan’s favourite colour has made Blue small and stubby. Orange and Yellow are incessantly fighting about which crayon is the correct colour of the sun and driving all the other crayons nuts. Pink crayon just wants Duncan to use it for SOMETHING other than flamingos, princesses and butterflies.
I won’t give away exactly what happens, but eventually Duncan sees that everyone – including his crayons – just want to express themselves in different ways. Maybe ways that Duncan was not expecting or thought of as “normal” or “the right crayon”. The only way that things change is when the crayons decide to communicate with Duncan about how they are feeling.
Keeping in mind the crayon’s self expression dreams, let’s look at the simple lessons of crayons I mentioned earlier.
- A box of crayons must have all colours – it is not the same without them.
- A box of crayons allow for limitless possibilities.
- A box of crayons – working together with the artist’s hands – can bring into existence something better, brighter and more impactful than what existed before.
- An artist does not always have their box of crayons stay within the lines while in use.
Some adults have forgotten these lessons – but ask any kid: they know these crayon truths. A missing crayon – or a crayon that is not the same colour as what the child is looking for – can contribute to a feeling of loss. Opening a fresh box of crayons allows the child to imagine anything is possible. Those crayons are the conduit for imagination and give ultimate power to the creator. Lines can be helpful, but sometimes lines – like rules – need to be broken to bring about change or see things from a different perspective.
These simple lessons of crayons can also be applied to people, just by switching the words “A box of crayons”. Look:
- People must have all colours – it is not the same without them.
- People allow for limitless possibilities.
- People – working together with the artist’s hands – can bring into existence something better, brighter and more impactful than what existed before.
- An artist does not always have their people stay within the lines while in use.
In this annual month of Pride – and throughout the year – we affirm, support and celebrate individual self expression. At this same time, we are all watching, discussing, feeling and participating in a very difficult but important cultural conversation. As we have seen, there are many shades of crayons who are getting short and stubby from overuse, while other crayons just want to express themselves in different ways.
We in Canada are not immune nor shielded from this conversation. As we continue to listen, get informed, act and become allies in this ongoing discussion, I hope that all of us who profess to promote communities of Joy, Hope, Love and Peace can remember these simple lessons of crayons. They will be important as we move forward to better. This is a time where we may need to change a line or use a crayon in a new way in an effort to bring into existence something better, brighter and more impactful than what existed before.
As a white crayon, I cannot fathom what other crayons go through on a daily basis. I do not profess to know everything about all crayons but I vow to act like Duncan: listen, learn, help make changes, see things differently and make all crayons feel important. We are all in one big crayon box and each crayon – no matter the colour – has something to express and contribute.
My crayon box is full of every colour – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Until next time…
James Clark – C.F.O., Reaching Out