I have this thing, one of those little things, that is a huge part of who I am, but most people don’t even know about it.
If I am dressed, or not going to an airport, then there is a knife in the left pocket of whatever pair of pants I’m wearing. The knife itself has changed several times over the years as my collection expanded and my tastes changed… but, as a item, as a thing, there has been one there since I left home to go to college.
Before then the knife was there as well, just not while I was at school. They frown on that sort of behavior.
The knife is a tool and I’ve used it as such on numerous occasions. It helps me open my mail. It helps me open packaging. It helped me screw down the bindings on my snowboard when one of them popped off halfway down a run. It helped me worked on my truck in the middle of nowhere when I needed a quick fix. It has been well used and will continue to be so. But, having it there as a very handy tool is only half of the story. The other half is what it represents, what it means to me…
My father always carries a knife in his pocket. My older brother always carries a knife in his pocket. My grandfather always carried a knife in his pocket. My uncles and older cousins always carry knives in their pockets. This was just something we knew when we were growing up. Adults carried one with them because they are a great tool for many reasons and occasions.
But, you had to earn the right to carry one first.
This brings me to my scouting career, and earning my Whittler’s Chip – just a piece of paper with a few safety rules, my signature and the signature of my scout leader saying I would always be safe and always respect the knife as a tool. Having that handed to me and getting my very first knife along with it was one of the proudest moments I can remember from my childhood. It was the start of growing up. If I could be trusted with that then who knows what new responsibilities (and adventures) I would be trusted with each day after that.
So, now, any time I pull out my knife to help with a project I look back with wonder at how far I’ve come. I remember scouting and I remember my whole family – all of the adults I looked up to, admired, and wanted to be like when I grew up.
It is a constant reminder, sitting idling in my pocket, to make sure I’m being the kind of person I want to be, the kind of person that my family can be proud of.
It’s such a simple thing, but it’s so much more…