The Knife Hypothesis, a companion to Spoon Theory

The Knife Hypothesis, a companion to Spoon Theory

Image for postimage credit Peakpx

One of the most useful articles in recent years was spoon theory, Christine Miserandino?s thoughts on how we represent energy and chronic issues to those that might not know them. It?s come up a few times recently with some friends, and I?ve found some use in my own companion knife hypothesis, so I thought it was about time to put it out to the world.

First up, make sure you?re familiar with spoon theory. I?ll wait, I?m not going anywhere. If you?re a bit more technically inclined, hit the wikipedia page for spoon theory too ? it uses all sorts of nice technical terms that I?m not going to go into here.

All familiar? Spoons are a resource, etc, yeah, you get it.

SO, let?s add a few more concepts and metaphors in here. I?m going to add knives, and because I have a sweet tooth, Nutella. I?m going to assume you?ve done your training in cutlery school and know what knives are, but if you?re not familiar with Nutella it?s a sweet hazelnut spread, amazing on bread, melted over ice cream, or used in smoothies. Personally, I really like eating it straight out of the jar with a spoon ? which is where my knife hypothesis comes in.

[author?s note ? please forgive the break with the naming of spoon theory to refer to this as a hypothesis, I just want to be clear that this is an unproven/untested yet vaguely scientific idea, and the appropriate word for that to me is hypothesis. I?m not theory shaming, I?m just doing my own thing.]

Image for postNutella, I missed it very much when I was vegan.

So Nutella is our metaphor for life here, for the things we need/want/must/can do. Going to the movies with friends? Doing your washing? Like all the examples given in spoon theory, it?s tasks or activities that take effort but are also either required or desired. Now, when you want to eat your Nutella straight from the jar (don?t food shame me, it?s delicious and really helps me get through some things), the best way tends to be a spoon (how coincidental!).

Of course you use your spoons for other things, like ice cream, or yoghurt, or soup, so sometimes (as in spoon theory) you?re simply out of spoons. You have no spoons in the drawer, none clean, you simply can?t find a spoon. There?s no shame in that, I lived out of home as a teenager and I?m positive it happened to me a lot, and when life gets on top of me now it?s not too rare that I find all the spoons are actually in the dishwasher I just started, and so I have none at hand.

So how do I get my Nutella?

Well as you?ll see above, the image suggests another piece of cutlery ? the knife. In my household we find we don?t go through knives that much, most of what I cook (as a vegetarian) is soft enough I can make do with just a fork, and I?m a big fan of the good ol? cheese toasty, which doesn?t need any cutlery at all. Suffice to say, there?s nearly always knives in the drawer, and not always spoons, so when I want my thick semi solid hazelnut treat, I can make do with a knife if need be.

Image for postImage copyright Gracie Films

The metaphor here is that the knife is borrowing ahead, because I don?t have spoons. I want you to think of the knife as something that not only won?t be there later when I need it (maybe we only have one knife in our house), has a negative cost (this knife will be covered with Nutella within seconds), and also has the potential to harm you in it?s use (you could cut your mouth with the butterknife). It?s also not quite the same structurally as what you need (it?s not going to get as much Nutella out of the jar at once, and if it?s a warm day you?re going to have to be quick or it?s going to drip on the floor and the dog?ll get it), and its use creates vulnerabilities by it?s very nature (you?re going to find the Nutella sits different on a knife, plus the handle can be a bit wider so you?ll get more wasted Nutella, but also your hand just tends to go a little deeper into the jar and you end up with delicious but sticky knuckles).

Let?s say I?ve had a long day at work. I?ve used all my spoons just getting up, getting to work, getting everything done that needs doing and not doing the things that are counter productive (we might need a hypothesis for that too, but that can come another time), and so on. I get home. I?m OUT of spoons. I have no spoons, at all. There?s no spoons here Chopper (NSFW). Here, there?s no spoons. Suddenly I get a text from a friend, something I know will lift my spirits and help with my chronic depression and borderline personality disorder ? the latest Justice Vengers movie is out, and I?ve been really keen to find out what happened to Flower-Person and MuesliMan.

I check my metaphorical drawer again, hoping I?m wrong and that there?s a spoon here, somewhere, anywhere, even a teaspoon or maybe a spork (again, we?ll discuss those another time). Nothing.

But there?s some knives?

Image for postCheck out that cutlery, they have a lovely warm blanket and everything. Image credit Peakpx

Eff it, I say, and grab some knives and go (metaphorically, remember, I don?t literally walk around with knives, please don?t be scared of me).

Here?s the cost of all this. It means I?m going to get home later tonight, and need to sleep in tomorrow morning (one knife). I?m definitely going to have not done the washing tonight (which I may not have done anyway, but I might have found a spoon for that while resting on the couch, so there?s another potential knife). I?m going to be exhausted while I?m out, so my mouth and my brain are going to do that little thing where they don?t sync up quite right (something something iTunes something something), and I may not appreciate the film, my friends, or the food we?ll probably get as much as I would if I had the energy (maybe that food?s a soup, and a spoon would have been perfect! Too bad, we?re using knives here).

You get the picture?

I get home late that night, and there?s dirty knives to add to the stack of dirty spoons. That in itself is a knife, dealing with the knives, so there?s cost within cost here. I can?t sleep, because socially Iv?e been over exposed and over stimulated, and it takes me half the night to get to sleep (another knife) and I?ll sleep in even more the next day, maybe past midday (yet another knife). When I?m finally up and able to address the dishes (which I need another knife for, remember there?s still no spoons), I take longer to do it, I?m clumsier, maybe I drop some things and break them.

Do you see the spiraling cost of it all? Say no to knives, kids. They?re dangerous, like raptors.

Image for postOn a completely hyperbolic note, I?d like to remind you all to say no to raptors.

Eventually, though it may take all of the next day (so let?s hope it was a Friday night I went out) I?ll catch up, and the clean spoons will be in the drawer alongside the clean knives. Of course I?ve now got to spend some of them to try to play catch up on whatever I was going to do during the day already, so I go through the bigger spoons first where I would normally have just used the smaller ones. It might have only taken a teaspoon to go take the morning papers to Mum and Dad, but I?m still a little raw and it takes a whole table spoon. If I have a fight with someone it might even take a soup ladle (which was still dirty from implementing that new policy at work last week, until just now) to get through it.

There?s now less and smaller spoons than there would otherwise have been with the same tasks done, and I might yet end up faced with a choice of a knife again soon. There might be a family engagement I really need to be at, or a concert a friend bought me tickets to. Using a knife instead of the spoon I?d otherwise have might mean I end up sitting in the sun at UncleAunt Frankines because I?m not paying as much attention as usual, or too close to the huge speakers at the concert, either of which could cause an horrific migraine.

And it all starts again?

I hope you find that useful in understanding why your friend looks a little more tired than usual, or why your partner needs ?quiet time? the next day after a sudden/unexpected night. Personally I find it?s the unplanned knifes that can be the worst, and cause the most damage. I guess they?re the steak knives maybe?

If you didn?t like this video, then downvote the shi- Oh wait, sorry, that?s Taliesin & Evitels? signoff. Look, if you find this useful, hit the clap button, share it around, check my other articles etc ? I?m not writing much of this sort of thing right now, but I have a few useful ?brain stuff? articles here on Medium that you might appreciate. Full credit for the original spoon theory must be given to Christine Miserandino, without whom I?m sure many of us #spoonies would still struggle to explain certain things to people at times, but luckily I myself find myself managing things well enough that my cutlery drawer tends to run full of metaphors lately.

But I need those knives sometimes, and yikes do I regret using them every time.


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