I have several knives, including some that were my dad’s and granddad’s. None of them are collector’s items, save for quality of nostalgia they hold or the usefulness in general application. My specialized knives are appropriate for hunting or fishing. None of them would be of much value for whittlin’ and whittlin’ is what life is about.
The last time I earnestly tried whittlin’ – that persistent application of patience and edge to the forgiving textures of soft wood – was with a blue Cub Scout pocket knife. Trust me, that was a long time ago. A very long time ago. But whittlin’ has a romanticized place in my memories and imaginings, and most assuredly was something some of my Mississippi kin were likely good at. Actually, whittlin’ has always been part of my life, not with me as the whittler, but I am the whittled. You are, too.
Life’s experiences transform us just as whittlin’ can transform a block of wood into a detailed piece of art or a practical implement. Some passes of the blade make significant changes to our “shape,” and sometimes they make nuanced changes. It is only with whittlin’ that the square peg begins to find its way into the round hole, and only with persistence and precision that the fit becomes perfect. Life is whittlin’ me to be a better “shape,” a better person, a more skilled and patient person, a more resilient and courageous person. Life is whittlin’ on you, too.
Sometimes we fight the whittler’s hand. OK, we often do. Imagine the whittler trying his craft on a piece of wood that constantly moves or thinks it knows better than the whittler what potential it has.
See experiences for what they are: shaping you to your greatest potential.