I sharpened my knives today.
I know, I know… big deal.
Except it is to me.
My grandfather was a knife maker, and my mom still has knives he made.
My knife (Don’t Touch My Knife!) was a gift from my beloved crew at Cupps Café. It is a Shun, the very knife I had hoped to buy some day. Japanese knives are my preferred tools because the handle and balance are exactly right for me. I don’t pretend know what is right for you, but I encourage spending time choosing the right knife because it is a very personal relationship often lasting a lifetime and beyond. I understand that there are strong opinions around knife brands, but again, it’s personal!
I allowed a professional to sharpen my knife once. He left not so professional marks on the blade and the edge was… meh. I swear to you, I was mentally wounded every time I looked at those scuffs on my blade. Lesson learned. I don’t let anyone else near my blade considering how much my knife means to me.
Spending the time to clear the counters to set up my whetstones and then working to get the perfect angle for the perfect edge leaves a fair amount of time to really think, which brought me to the considerable subject of what a sharp knife can do, and even more importantly, what it can’t.
A sharp knife is your best friend in the kitchen. It is your constant in the construction of a great meal. When I grasp the handle of my knife, I swear I hear blade song from an epic movie. (kidding) I actually think better when I am holding my knife. The vague idea of a meal comes into sharp (ha!) focus when I start cutting an onion. Until the blade bites, every part of the meal is mere fantasy. How many times have I said, “Less talk, more action, and people get fed”? Who can peruse a new cookbook or surf recipes without feeling the physical need to make something to eat? One cannot live on thoughts alone…
If you paid attention in history class, you got some idea of how fundamental survival is to the right set of tools. Forging metal made a huge leap in the ability to feed people. Lots of other not so great stuff happened too, but there was always the big feast at the end of the battle! So, yes, a sharp knife matters.
Back to my contemplation about what a knife can and can’t cut…
Just looking around my kitchen, there were onions and peaches, herbs to be chopped, whole spices and garlic to bash. Add in beautiful figs fanned out on a plate, tomatoes, and potatoes. Hell, you could process a whole cow if you want to be extreme! The list is nearly endless.
The one thing that cannot be cut is my inextricable tie to the people that bought me my knife. That act of kindness, the energy and care that went into the research, purchase, and the actual gifting moment…that tie could never be cut. It matters not that all these years later, most of those people are scattered to the winds. Some I may never see again, some have drifted to their intended partners and vastly different lives, some I still talk with, and some I hear about third hand through Facebook. One simple glance at my knife puts them all right there, each and every one fully treasured in the beautiful blade and the handle that fits my hand perfectly.
On that particular day, I was on the receiving end of what may seem like a simple act of kindness.
I was given a knife.
Every single day since, I have committed to an act of thanksgiving by preparing a meal for someone using that knife.
I am reminded of a quote from Churchill:
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
When you are able to acknowledge on a daily basis that you are humbled by an act so selfless yet so profound, then truly, giving becomes exponential.