“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”
―Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart
(you can find the initial crafting and thoughts on the Precedent here)
This was the first real knife I started working on. I put it aside for a long time. I had a tough time heat treating it and kept avoiding finishing it. I’ve been rolling and moving and was at first hesitant to look back on this knife because it was so raw.
I think there’s a hesitation to look back because somehow I fear that I will fall back into those things, or worse, see that I haven’t really moved forward. I see lots of mistakes and lots of flaws. There is the fear that things that once were can somehow bleed into what is now. That the cycle just continues. I’ve found the opposite is true- that knowing what pain and loss feel like help us to grow. We remember what it’s like to feel joy and peace. And while there is the realization that we will most definitely feel pain and loss again, there is the little light that reminds us we’ll feel joy and peace again as well.
All of this comes from the fear. What a powerful teacher that is.
Fear is there to keep us safe, in the same way that our mind thinks many thoughts and is always requiring input and judging our surroundings to keep us from harm. So I find that I don’t do things because of the fear of putting myself in perceived danger’s way. Sometimes there is a fear of not dealing with my shit because I may feel that it is too much and this will somehow put me in an unsafe place. Then come the distractions to divert the overthinking mind from dealing with perceived danger that is usually not so dangerous in the first place. Look, something shiny….
Shiny things may manifest themselves as emotional unavailability, codependency, working way too much, not working enough, or a myriad of overindulgences that we interpret as something that can save us. We tell ourselves there isn’t enough time, ask ourselves what good could come of it all, and other things to devalue ourselves. All to try to protect ourselves.
Anyway…at some point it’s best to put the shiny things aside and deal with your shit.
As you look inside at past transgressions and flaws it’s sometimes easy to overlook the beauty and power imbued in those things. The little signatures of being human and the wonderful nuanced lessons that comes with that. Sometimes I have to take a pause to give myself enough space to see that. This is the ultimate lesson of the Precedent.
I tried maybe four or five times to harden this knife. It was a frustrating process. Finally I got it. I was working with a forgiving steel. Forgiveness is a powerful thing…. Those spots are where the blade got too hot during previous hardening attempts and caused a bit of decarburization. It is still very much functional. I sanded these bits off later.
Originally when I started on this blade I wanted to craft something that would cut through fear. For the handle I thought it fitting to use some of my grandmother’s old maple cutting board. It had split in half when I used it at a tailgating party in the snow and ice. I use the other half in my kitchen. I love this board.
I usually do a satin finish on the knife (or attempt one anyway). In keeping with the rawness that fear can often have I used a coarse finish sanding of 120 grit paper instead of the normal 600 and buffing.
Maple is notoriously hard to stain. I used Tung oil to bring out the grain.