My father was passionate about the importance of several things: studying the Bible, hard work, integrity in church leadership—and, sharp knives! Though generally even-tempered, if he was given a task that involved cutting and found that the knife was not sharp enough for his liking, he would exclaim, almost with anger, “You have to use a sharp knife!”
Father often worked in the kitchen, even as a child. Whenever a task involved cutting, it seemed that ninety percent of the time he was not satisfied with the sharpness of the blade. He would insist on sharpening the knife before starting the job. . . but not without a generous dose of complaining and reprimand. I heard from him many times, in exasperation, “Diane, haven’t you learned that you have to keep your knives sharp?”
An important lesson for all of us.
It also makes me wonder why most of us do not approach life like that. Why do we tend to keep working without sharpening the knives?
- One possible reason is that the dulling of a knife is a gradual process that takes place due to use and/or neglect. It is very easy to be unaware of how dull the knives are getting.
- When a cutting edge is lost, causing our tasks to be laborious, our efforts less than effective, our impact compromised, we might choose to ignore the obvious(or what is obvious to others) and just keep struggling along.
- Or maybe laziness. Sharpening a knife requires that we retrieve the knife sharpener from who-knows-where it was last kept (or go and buy one), then postpone the start of the job in order to engage in the sharpening process. Extra work. “Asch, I’ll do it next time,” we reason, and don’t bother to put in the effort or cost that it would take to restore the cutting edge.
Almost to the point of embarrassment, I often ask for a sharpener when using someone else’s knife. So hopefully my father taught me something! But in our kitchen, you will probably notice that knives are in the medium-to-mega dull range. Ouch.
Which knife do I need to sharpen today?