Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shaolin Pencil Sharpening

Click the pix for larger picture.
A blogger and author I enjoy, David Rees has recently started an Artisanal Pencil Sharpening business. He sent an announcement via email, and I replied:

I have posted this to my Facebook page. I am extremely popular with hundreds of wealthy people who value hand crafted artisan thingies so I think that you will find great success soon.
Since I live in China, I have my own personal pencil sharpening child, who is apprenticed to an aged Shaolin master sharpener. The child is 12 now, but has been studying with the Master since age 3. He rises at 4 every morning and is put through a rigorous 6 hours of meditation, finger strengthening, and kung fu before breakfast, then another 6 hours of running while holding a 50 kg log. In the evening he spends 8 hours practicing the 51 step pencil mysteries. He sleeps on a bed of broken practice pencils. He sharpens the pencils with his fingernails. It is said that the Master can sharpen a pencil with his eyelid.
My Shaolin boy is the one on the right, in the stance he uses when holding a pencil with his foot for the Master to sharpen with his ear.
My boy comes to my home before dinner each day and sharpens my collection in exchange for a bowl of rice and an English lesson. He has mastered the phrases: "Hello. You look handsome today, and your wife is beautiful and obedient", "You are so generous!", "I'm not worthy to sharpen such fine pencils".
Like nearly everything the Chinese do, if it does not cause pain and suffering it is not worth doing.
I admire the traditional American ways, satisfaction from a job well done for good pay.
Good luck in your venture and may great wealth find its way to you.