Friday, 29 December 2017

What keeps me going?


Not long ago, I was asked why I am passionate about sharpening, what keeps me so interested after decades of doing it. I had to think of that for a while but the answer is pretty clear and it may surprise you.

I have tried all sorts of other things, started woodwork, playing guitar, making wine but I lost interest and no longer do anything but sharpen knives and I can honestly say that I enjoy it as much today as I did 30 years ago and I don't see any end to that feeling in my future.

It is much much more that physical act of sharpening that keeps me going, although that is exceptionally enjoyable, the feeling of satisfaction and reward and accomplishment. Achieving a skill that did not come easy to me.

    However it really comes down to something simple for me. If I know ten things about knife sharpening by hand, I also know that there are at least ten things that I have yet to learn, new elements of the skill that lie hidden in the future, this is what keeps me so driven.  I don't know what I don't know so I cannot say what I will learn tomorrow but I just know that I will learn something new and I will keep learning.

   There are old men in Japan that have been sharpening knives for 40-50 years that still see their Master Sharpener once in a while, what more could they possibly learn?

   If sharpeners at that level are still being educated, clearly my journey is far from over that  is the key, the coolest thing about freehand sharpening.  Many people won't get this, they have stopped learning because their ego's prevented them from continuing. I know several sharpeners who would never ask a question to another sharpener, I feel sorry for those poor bastards to be honest. I would be miserable if I thought that all I had left was to use the skills I currently possess and that is it.

It is exciting for me to know that at some point, if I am lucky, I will meet someone who can teach me something new, like etching knives for example, how the heck does that happen. Yes I have seen lots of videos and have a good idea but to actually perfect that little trick would be very cool to learn. 

Just thought I would share this.

Peter Nowlan

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