Knifemaking: stubborness, resistance, and The Mule

You know all that shit you don’t want to do?  That’s the shit you do first.”

-my very dear friend Mr. Alan Parrot on resistance

Slim, you stubborner than a motherfucker

-my very dear friend Mr. Alan Parrot on some of my finer traits

Stubborness.  Unyielding, refusing to change.  The ability to dig one’s heels in and not budge.  I think this may be a bit negative, although those things are not necessarily untrue.  I think it lends itself more to an earthiness or stoutness of heart although it’s probably pretty frustrating at times for those close to us stubborn people.  Hell, sometimes it’s frustrating to be close to myself.

Alan is a gentleman I have worked with. I call him Mr. Al.  Here is a picture of us in West Virginia:

…it was cold…

He’s a fifty-five year-old African American man, ex-marine, and one of the most profound people I’ve met.  He’s fixed my car, dropped some serious lessons on me, and made me laugh till I cried.  He’s also stubborn as shit.  We did quite a few jobs together…and sometimes we would end up screaming at each other.  I couldn’t tell you what about.  Maybe it was my forklift driving or maybe he wasn’t moving fast enough for my liking or something else that really wasn’t all that important.

After we had screamed at each other and finished whatever nightmare job we were on, I’d usually buy him a cheeseburger.  Because I’m stubborn, even in my love for this man.

This is the lesson of the Mule.  Rooted, but in an earthy way and ultimately coming from a place of love.

I find resistance to be the negative side of things.  That thing you feel when you know what you need to do but don’t do it?  That is resistance and it can be sticky and awful.  To get through that I often need to look at what’s beneath that.  Oftentimes it may be fear of failure, feelings of not being good enough, or any number of things.  Things of the smaller self.  To get through this I usually imagine the small self being held by my larger self, usually a very large tree.  It doesn’t work all the time because life can be overwhelming.  When it does work it is quite liberating.

 Sometimes you need to dig into your being.  So I put a sharp foot on the profile of the Mule to do just that….Slowly to the left….    slowly to the right…  Hardening the foot as well as the blade  Hardened up nicely she did…  Wet sanding… For the handle I used Cherry wood.  In Celtic lore, Cherry is the Tree of the Heart. She sits and cures…  Brass rivets and a lovely grain…


I left some of the scuffing.  The stuff of character…  She’s been through a journey.  I fancy a bit of the singed oil smduge…  

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The lesson of the mule is to take heart in your stubbornness, and to let go of resistance.  Both of these things will always be continuing works in progress, at least for me.

Here is a picture of Mr. Al watering his plants;


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