Why the World Should Pay Attention to Pipe Smokers
When you see a man with a pipe, stop and listen. Pay attention to him. In my experience, pipe smokers are the type of people that are able and willing to teach others something of value. Such teaching can come through the example of a life well-lived, or maybe we find it as a nugget of wisdom that comes through simple, everyday conversation. I’ve never yet met a pipe smoker who didn’t display a certain degree of timeless integrity and old-fashioned honesty. As people of integrity and honor, or at least as people who recognize these traits when they see them, I think pipe smokers have much to offer the world, which is, after all, fallen.
Pipe smokers are introspective. Introspection simply means that one is able to rightly identify and analyze one’s character, beliefs, and feelings. Such people know what they can do and what they cannot do, what they can control and what they cannot do anything about. Introspective people know what matters, what does not, and are able to explain why they find certain things more meaningful than other things. Most importantly, introspective people know what they believe and why they believe it. These are steadfast, determined, and thoughtful people who are not easily swayed by trends and temporary fashion. A man with a pipe knows what it means to live out his value system. And almost naturally and somewhat unconsciously, he shows others how to be a well-behaved and civilized human being. The world should pay attention to pipe smokers.
Pipe smokers appreciate the value of time and consistency. A person who believes time is endless and plentiful is, well, foolish. Back before Gone With the Wind was deemed inappropriate entertainment (even though it remains the most popular film in history), one of the first scenes of the movie highlighted this quote, “Do not squander time. That is the stuff life is made of.” The quote originated with Benjamin Franklin, a pipe smoker and 18th century tobacco connoisseur. Like Franklin, this is the way pipe people still tend to treat time, that is, as a thing to be cherished and enjoyed. Unlike the cigarette folks who are looking for a quick nicotine fix, pipe smokers need time to enjoy the flavorful leaf packed in their bowls. There’s no such thing as a quick “smoke break” with a pipe. Pipe smoking is not simply a “break” or respite from the rest of one’s life. It is an instrumental component weaved into the very fabric of a pipe smoker’s life. A man with a pipe does not compartmentalize his interests into separate categories intended to impress separate groups of people for separate reasons. He is a man of consistency and integrity, the same during all seasons. The world should pay attention to pipe smokers.
Pipe smokers are generally good judges of character, and seek to share their life with interesting people who’ve lived through fascinating experiences. Because he is introspective, has a value system, and knows what he believes, pipe smokers are rare, keen observers of the human scene. Pipe people spend a lot of time thinking about life, loved ones, friends, the people they’ve met, and the people they’ve lost. One can fire up a pipe and spend an hour or more pondering precious memories made with friends and family during the passing of years. Indeed, a pipe session allows one to reflect on the reasons certain individuals, even if only a brief acquaintance, made a lasting impression. Perhaps this explains why pipe smokers search for the companionship of other pipe smokers. In reference to this camaraderie found among pipe smokers, Richard Carleton Hacker concluded, “It can best be likened to an informal linking of souls between individuals who may have nothing more in common other than the fact that they share an enriched appreciation of life, and all that goes with it.” As such, the world should pay attention to pipe smokers.
Pipe smokers do not follow: they lead. Anyone who smokes a pipe in our time is by default someone who defies the norm. And when the norm is found to be rootless and unattractive, defiance is a good thing. Whether you know it or not, when you smoke a pipe, there will be others who look up to you. I’ve never met a pipe smoker who is comfortable living life as a follower. He doesn’t like being told how to live, how to think, or how to behave. Mind you, this is not the same as an irresponsible, childish individualism. A man with a pipe has learned how to make his own decisions, carefully and strategically. He then lives out those decisions responsibly. A man with a pipe cherishes his liberty while respecting the liberty of those around him. He follows his own God-given course, not that of other men. The world should pay attention to pipe smokers.