You might find that smoke blown out cleared your mind of shadows within. Anyway, it gives patience, to listen to error without anger.
So writes J.R.R. Tolkien, on one of his most pleasured pursuits–the smoking of a pipe on an autumn afternoon. Or winter night. Or spring morning. Or a summer brunch. Or, best of all, watching the evening monsoon. (Okay, so that last one is all me, here on my mountain in Arizona)
Now, of course smoking can be hazardous to your health, but the thing to remember is pretty much everything is hazardous, too. “Life,” as someone dear to me says, “is a carcinogen.” If you don’t already smoke, it’s something you should only take up at your own risk. (It’s also perfectly okay for women to take up pipe smoking, too. Admittedly, were I to find a good woman who also smoked a pipe, my heart would be more inclined to her.) That being said, pipe smoking is an affectation I reccomend taking up only if you already smoke; as a replacement for cigarettes, there are few classier options.
Why? A number of reasons. For one, pipe tobacco smells and tastes better than cigarettes, and comes in wider varieties. It seems more natural, closer to the natural condition of the tobacco leaf as it’s grown. For another, the time it takes to smoke a pipe teaches patience, and introspection, and these are traits which are decidedly necessary for a proper Orthodox gentleman. I find myself that whenever my mind is in turmoil (which it has often been of late–October is the cruelist of months), sitting down somewhere in Jerome, or in my hobbit hole with a pipe and a good book affords my mind and soul the time, and space, to uncurl, destress, and glorify God once more. And, you’re always in good company with a pipe.
This will be a two-part entry. This first section is going to be about choosing your pipe, and choosing your tobacco.