February 23, 2017

A sharp but worn knife

I’ve always wanted a great, expensive knife. A knife worthy of Crocodile Dundee. A knife that infers prestige. That desire for me was some part masculinity, some part prestige, and some smaller part security.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to buy that knife. Purchasing it, I had a few moments of elation, then the knife became a collectable. It was just expensive enough to warrant being coddled. Its main job was to come out on occasion to be shown to friends, to be worthy of praise, discussion, and comparison.

I mentioned that I wanted a great knife. One day it (finally?) struck me that the knife wasn’t happy. I’m not trying to go Marie Kondo on you, I just thought about the world from the knife’s perspective. Its greatness didn’t come from being a collectable, spending 99% of its time in a drawer. In that moment, I couldn’t tell you if the knife was truly great?

I made the painful decision that this knife had to become a EDC (Every Day Carry).Painful because I knew I would ruin the knife’s pristine condition through daily use. It was only after using the knife every day for weeks that I realized it truly was a great knife. That I loved its action, how well it kept an edge, how durable it was, how it looked as it gained its patina. Only when it was worn through use did I appreciate the knife. Showing the knife to others was no longer about the knife, it was about what I had done with it. Its use gave it value, not diminished it. When I realized this, I knew both the knife and I were happy.

My knife, while real, is a metaphor. Love what you have. Only carry what you love. An object is worthwhile not for what it could do, but for what it did.

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