Thursday, January 27, 2005

"Never underestimate the power of a crayon."

Cadet blue. Cornflower. Orchid. Olive green. Red orange. Tan. Violet red. Chestnut. Salmon...

The colors go on and on. In fact, did you know that Crayola boasts 120 different colors? For most of us growing up, we were lucky enough to have (at the most) a 24-count box. And of those 24 colors, we could probably name - off the top of our head - as many as 16 colors. Now it's 120 different colors. And, Crayola is also marketing their box of States Crayons - 50 colors chosen and named for each state of the Union.

But enough facts and trivia, because the greater question is this: When was the last time you picked up a crayon yourself and colored anything? And an even greater question (if you can even remember): How did it make you feel?

For me, it was probably in my graduate school days in the mid 1980s. I was silly enough to believe an elementary-education major friend of mine that told me that having a pack of Crayolas around would help alleviate stress from time to time. And you know what? She was right. It was a grand 64-count box of Crayolas and my favorite color, for some reason (which was colored down to a stub), was copper. It was - and still is, for that matter - one of the most spectacular and soothing colors of a Crayola box for me. I can still vividly remember the smell of the Crayolas... and it instantly takes me back to the days when my brother and I would set up our Hot Wheels track up in our family living room in North Carolina. We would color and race, race and color. And putting one of those three-inch coloring tools in my hand even today inevitably places me back on my hands and knees, coloring and racing... Where does it put you?

When was the last time you caught the scent of a box of Crayolas? And of what does that scent remind you? It remains one of the simplest of inventions: colored wax mixed with one's imagination... and the rest is simply magic. There is no other way to describe it. Perhaps the old adage should be reworded so it states, "A crayon in the hand is worth at least twenty years off one's back."

The power of a crayon is that it allows a person - if they so choose and allow themselves - to recapture that which has been stagnant in their life for some time: creativity and imagination. To color and draw as you want and what you want; to allow your sole mind to set the stage for some of the most creative coloring artwork the world has seen in some time... to simply be a child again... full of youth, vim and vigor... to harbor a spirit that proclaims, "Anything is possible!"... even for a few moments of your day, your week, your life...

Go out today and purchase at least a 64-count box of Crayolas. You owe it to yourself to at least purchase that amount. Will it keep the flu at bay? Probably not, but it will keep old age and senility at bay. Will it allow you to keep your present position and social standing? Most likely not, but it will guarantee to keep something that is invaluable: your perspective and sense of humor. Will the purchase of a box of Crayolas cause you to be promoted? Most likely not, but it will promote that youthfulness in you that is most needed in today's world.

Be it known that a crayon will most likely never draft a State of the Union Address or author an award-winning entente or accord. A crayon will most likely never draft a living will or author a landmark legislation. But it will be the instrument of choice in crafting some of the greatest artwork that you will have the pleasure to display. It may be your own child, neice, nephew or grandchild, but it will be works that equal that of Michaelangelo or Picasso. Priceless. And for those of us who dare to place one of those blessed instruments in our hand, the price may very well be our own soul...


And when it's all said and done, don't forget about one of Crayola's newest colors: mauvelous. Yes, it's true. I found it in my son's new set of assorted Crayolas. Probably one of the most appropo names given to a crayon in quite some time. It states exactly how many of us feel after color for only a moment: mauvelous.

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