I remember going school supply shopping in elementary school. I looked forward to it all summer. There’s just something about the clean, bright, crispness of new folders and notebooks and an art box that isn’t yet covered in marker stains from the year before. It all just makes you so excited to start a new year. But the best part by far was the crayons. Crayola. Always Crayola. If you showed up with Rose Art your whole year would be a downward spiral.
One year my mom let me buy the 64-pack of Crayola crayons. The one in the big box with the sharpener in the back and random unnecessary colors like “macaroni and cheese” and “cornflower blue.” For those first few weeks you’re always so careful. Being sure to take out only one crayon at a time, taking care to put it back in the exact spot you found it in, so that even after countless uses your box still looks brand new.
But eventually it happens. Eventually you lose one, or the paper starts to peel off on its own, or the worst of all…your crayon breaks in half. Yesterday I was helping to work on a set for a play and my crayon broke in half. And I got that feeling that I used to get in elementary school. That there-goes-the-end-of-perfection feeling. That what’s-the-point-in-trying-anymore feeling. Maybe that sounds a bit over dramatic But crayons are a big deal. I think that people are like crayons. I think that I’m like a crayon at least. You know, really good at trying for those first few weeks, until something goes wrong and it’s time to give up because you know that nothing will ever be perfect again, and the crayons will never all fit in the box the same way anymore.
But the best people in life are the broken ones. The ones who are a little rough around the edges because they know what it feels like to hurt and cry and have their wrapper peeled off a little bit at the corner. I think those people get it better than the rest of us…that it’s only when you’ve experienced nakedness that you start to understand the value of vulnerability, and it’s only when you’ve had that deep sorrow pain in your gut that you can see someone else is having it just by looking in their eyes.
The best part of broken crayons is that once you break them, then they can be shared. And that’s worth much more than them all lined up perfectly in a box. Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s worth a whole lot more.