today I am a fountainpen
Fountain pens used to be the iconic gift of the bar mitzvah bourgeoisie; a stiff symbol of manhood handed down at this rite of passage from one generation to the next.
But that was 40 and 50 years ago. Who talks about fountain pens now? Sure, you can find outrageously priced writing implements in the advertising section of the New York Times or Levengers catalog, but no real people we know use fountain pens anymore.
Well, um, not exactly. See, today, I was running out of my favorite (need I add: disposable) pen and went to order another pack when I realized that over my lifetime I probably was throwing away enough pens to build a foot-bridge over a 10' wide river.
It astonishes me that even as I try to live sustainably, there remain these stealth consumables that I do not even flag.
When and why the dawning comes remains a surprise - but tonight, I determined that even better than a disposable retractable point pen was a fountain pen. I in fact own a fountain pen that I inherited from my father, a beautiful grey pen with his initials. However, I resist taking it out of the house, doing so only on special occasions, such as my children's wedding so we could use the pen to sign their ketubot, their wedding documents.
I should probably buy an inexpensive fountain pen - the body of the pen can be used for a lifetime; several lifetimes if we are mindful. And the ink comes in a glass, recyclable container. But that might not happen for a while. Meanwhile, runner-up to the fountain pen, is a cartridge pen I bought years ago. Even if the cartridge is disposed of, at least the body of the pen is re-used. For now, I will take my marbled green cartridge pen with me wherever I go and hope that I do not lose it. (Popular advice tells me that the more expensive the pen, the less likely one is to lose it. I am skeptical, but willing to give it a try.) If that works, I should probably get one for home - and keep it at my desk. Imagine all the space I will gain when I use up and don't replace all my disposable pens. And even if my diminution of the landfill is miniscule, handling my re-usable pen on a daily basis will, like keeping kosher, remind me of the greater values that I hope will infuse the deeds of my life.