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A meditation on erasers

Erasers are pure magic. Think—a simple little block that lies snugly in your palm. With a motion from your hand, it neatly removes all the ugly strokes and smudges from the paper, no matter what paper it is and what texture it has, noiselessly. A perfect bar of soap, except with a distinct rubbery smell, it can scrub off all the unwanted lines—fat or thin, dark or light, streaks of graphite and sometimes even blotches of ink!

This tool is surprisingly durable and convenient too. There is no sharpening or polishing needed to use it. To erase, all you need to do is rub it on a surface, and the eraser will do the rest, as it gobbles up all the graphite. Erasers last for an astounding amount of time, helping you correct mistakes and eliminate marks. Rubber ones feel especially durable because they are hard and can be squeezed and bent without breaking.

The eraser presents astonishing variety as well. Soft, hard, ink erasers, rubber, pencil-top erasers, gum erasers, vinyl, squishy, moldable kneaded erasers (like a chunk of magical dough) . . . and though they serve the same purpose, all have their own special qualities. Kneaded erasers, for example, do not leave the rubbery dust that reminds one of the remaining crumbs of an eaten cake. Rubber ones are smooth and as velvety as a mouse. Gum erasers are extraordinarily soft and dusty, and may look rather chewy, but instead of being like gum, they tend to crumble when used. Erasers come in a huge assortment of shapes and sizes and colors—think of all the different ones in the world! And yet, it is such a simple thing, so useful and easy to grasp.

Imagine a world without erasers—a world smeared and gray and stamped and smudged, a world piled to the brim with incorrect grammar and spelling, a world overflowing with rewritten answers and essays, a world of frustration— and you will come to see the startling importance of this plain, basic, humble object that fits in your fist.