Converting: The Light in the Darkness

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer, author

No soldier wants to go to war; every soldier will if necessary. At age 19, Private Jimmy Smith was no different, two months into his first tour in Afghanistan.

Dismal and bleak are words that could define both Jimmy’s surroundings … and his emotions. He missed his family, he missed his dog, and he missed himself—he barely recognized the dirt-covered face he saw in his military-issued shave kit mirror.

The only times Jimmy felt relief were the moments he spent reading letters from family and friends back home: “Jimmy, we missed you at the bonfire this weekend. The fire got so high it singed the trees! Mom hasn’t noticed so far. Keep your chin up, Brother. Love, Sister.” The letters kept Jimmy going; he slept with them under his pillow.

But it was a special package that ultimately became Jimmy’s saving grace: a box containing charcoal pencils, a sketch pad, and a note reading, “Dear Jimmy, Don’t let darkness overshadow your light. Find the beauty. Love, Nana.”*

Jimmy could hardly read the letter through his tears. Drawing was a passion he hadn’t so much as thought about since he’d arrived; leave it to his grandma to remind him. Over the months that followed, Jimmy sent Nana drawings of the soldiers in his unit, the horizon at sunset, the eyes of village children – any scrap of beauty he could find.

And while an estimated 166,875,000,000 pieces of mail are delivered each year in the U.S., surely no one in those numbers was happier than Nana each time she received an envelope from Jimmy that included his sketches, each signed “P.J.S. The Light in the Darkness” in the lower right corner.

Private Jimmy Smith. And Nana. And converting papers.

Treated, sheeted, grooved or folded (perforated, blocked, bound, or laminated), converting paper takes new form becoming limitless products, including a box, a sketch book, envelopes—and maybe even a saving grace.

*Note: Jimmy and Nana are fictional characters.

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