The life handles
And fountain pens
One morning I read a bit of Epictetus. The part about how we're given two handles to use to grasp life situations stuck in my mind. So as I sipped my coffee I thought about what I read and worked on a paraphrasing in my mind while drawing a rabbit in my sketchbook with my fountain pen. Why a rabbit character? Rabbits are known to be shy, easily spooked by situations, so to emphasize the hesitancy around which handle to grab I chose a rabbit. When my drawing was complete I wrote my paraphrased understanding of what I had read. Yes, I could have quoted directly from the book but I wanted to do the mental exercise of “summing up” for myself.
Here's a closer look at my page that got finished during one breakfast session.
During another mornings breakfast I tried to remember a quote from Kurt Vonnegut that I thought might relate to the concept from Epictetus about choosing our response to situations. I thought about rummaging in my fully packed shelf of Vonnegut titles … but it was early, the coffee was hot so I googled the quote instead and wrote it in my book. Then I drew a bird I saw in our yard along with an imaginary hedgehog and landscape.
A third morning I awoke thinking about Iceland and the phrase they use for almost any situation. It seemed in keeping with Epictetus too. I googled the exact spelling for the Icelandic phrase, wrote the words on my sketchbook pages first then I drew the dogs and, inexplicably, fish wearing shoes. (If you're curious about this Icelandic phrase here's a fun article https://www.pursuitcollection.com/stories/%C3%BEetta-reddast-wisdom-for-turbulent-times/)
A fourth morning I awoke thinking about Dr. Bob Hoke's phrase “The best response to difficult situations is to go on and live well". (I had recorded that in his book that I illustrated https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit1) That too related to what I had read in Epictetus so as I drank my coffee I wrote my thought in my sketchbook. A ballerina toad dancing along a fountain pen seemed to fit my thoughts.
My friend Neera, who writes a newsletter I enjoy called “A Whimsical Writer” often includes books she recommends that relate to creativity. Here's a link to her newsletter in case you're curious:
So borrowing the concept from Neera here below is my favorite book about drawing and writing with fountain pens. I find that a good quality fountain pen is a joy to use in my sketchbook; it makes lines smoothly and it's refillable (less plastic waste) with my preferred kind of ink.
Note to self: be mindful about the handles I grab this week. And Þetta reddast!
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I like Epictetus's metaphor of the rough handle versus the smooth handle. It seems related to Appreciative Inquiry, which eschews a problem-solving mindset for a goal-attainment mindset.
Thank you for a shout out Sue. And I loved your book recommendation. I have been sketching with nib and ink but there is a problem, I can't carry it with me everywhere and ink takes long time to dry. I have tried ballpoint pens as well and they are pretty good when nothing else is around. And I have invested a lot in Artline pens, brush pens and other things. I don't think I have found my favourite tool yet. I am going to give fountain pen a go as well. I will bring back the memories of middle/high school days when fountain pen used to be the only tool we had to write. Good two or three pens for exam day, incase one stops work or is not smooth enough.