I hate the smell of iron sharpening iron!

Xena, Callisto about to... sharpen each other?

Strictly speaking, the following quotation is not directly applied to friendships:

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)

See, supposedly, this popular Bible verse is about self-improvement, and has been the foundation of a number of successful quasi-church organizations. OK.

What I believe? Well, the bit about iron is metallurgically iffy (and you’re yawning, yeah), but that’s a metaphor, and the idea that we improve one another – or at least that we CAN – is very difficult to argue against. You have to believe it’s not your business or something. And that belief becomes problematic when we’re talking about two friends. C’mon. Do you REALLY think if your friend is an a**hole or is self-destructive, that’s not your business? THANK you.

It’s the metaphor that gives me all sorts of grief. When I picture iron sharpening iron, like most people I picture sharpening tools (and then the metallurgy comes in, and then you yawn again, and will you please STOP?) or… clashing swords.

Dude. Sword gets dull, you gotta sharpen it, or next ninja comes along makes you kebab, y’feel me? So your sword – your iron – gets sharpened, and this is what you get:

  1. The smell. Most like from iron particles in the air. It ain’t pleasant. I fricken HATE it. It’s the smell of conflict. The kind of conflict that comes when your friend reveals to you the latest way you’ve been an ass.
  2. The exposure. From the iron particles rubbed off. When it’s something of YOU that gets rubbed off, you’re sensitive, and you feel everything comes in contact with you.
  3. The pressure. From that other darn sword or sharpener or whatever bearing down on you, rubbing the crap off and leaving whatever’s beneath. You feel that the most.
  4. The heat. From friction – two solid materials rubbing against each other, always generates heat. And that’s you, reacting to your sensitivity.
  5. Whatever’s left. If your sword – and your self – don’t break from the heat and pressure, then only the real you beneath is left: better, sharper…

…and less of an ass, maybe, yeah?

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~ by Ron Graham on October 18, 2010.

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