Everyone acts like they have to be in a hurry. But hurry is one of those things that will crush a man’s initiative, purpose, and zeal. We were not made with the intention that we should live our lives amidst constant noice and motion. There must be moments of peace and quiet, moments that allow us to observe, think, and remember. Our world is busy doing nothing, in a hurry to go nowhere. Why? Is it because we want to be seen living busy lives, or maybe we are afraid of what quiet and silence will reveal to us? I am convinced that we do not need to live with constant noice and activity. I am equally persuaded that many of us intentionally avoid moments of solitude and silence because we do not want to be bothered by it. Sitting still in the quiet forces us to think, to look inside ourselves, to weigh ourselves in the balance of our Creator’s admonishments.
What does any of this have to do with pipe smoking? Unlike the majority of the world, pipe smokers pursue moments of solitude and quiet. The decline of pipe smoking in our society is a direct reflection of the growing hustle and bustle worldview that currently shapes our daily lives. Pipe smokers cannot be afraid of solitude and silence. Indeed, most of our smoking sessions will be spent alone. Contrary to the hipsters and self-promoted VIP’s who frequent coffee shops so they can show the world how busy and important they are with their espresso in hand and laptop in face, pipe smokers just want to be left alone, left alone to enjoy a well-blended tobacco and a well-made pipe, in peace. Pipe people do not wish to be bothered by unnecessary noice and constant movement. We’re not afraid of solitude or facing the reality of our failures and shortcomings. I think this is why, in my experience at least, pipe smokers are overwhelmingly humble, gracious, and thoughtful people. This is probably why certain folks are drawn to the pipe in the first place: they were reflective and honest people to begin with.
Pipe smokers enjoy peace and quiet. We search for and protect those moments when we can enjoy our pipe. This is not to say that we do not enjoy smoking a pipe with others, or simply the company of others while we enjoy our tobacco. There have been many pleasant evenings on my front porch spent with my wife and a pipe. My son loves to watch me smoke a pipe (and I imagine he will want his own briar collection at some point, many years from now.) But what I cannot tolerate is someone “whoppin’ their jaws,” as my Grandpa would say, while I’m trying to think about things and concentrate on the blend in my pipe bowl. There’s a difference between meaningful conversation and mere platitudes. Ultimately, the pipe has the power to serve as our sole companion during a quiet smoking session. And why shouldn’t it?
A tobacco pipe is a physical representation of the way things were before the world became fast-paced and noisy. Cell phones, screens, the internet, and Google are extremely new inventions that have gained charge over our schedules in ways that no other force in history has been able to accomplish. We are constantly thinking about what to say next, what to post on social media, and how we can make others see us as impressive and important. It’s good to be impressive and important, but they are not goals in and of themselves; they are a by-product of people who demand and appreciate moments of silence and solitude. People who develop important ideas and impressive life practices are not motivated by cheering or “following” the noise, trends, and flighty habits of others: they are driven by their own goals, faith, and ambition.
In a fast-paced, noisy world, the pipe plays an extremely important role. There’s nothing hurried about pipe smoking. The very nature of the process forces us to be quiet so we can smoke the pipe. Many have discussed the health risks or benefits associated with pipe smoking. I would argue that using the pipe as a way to achieve peace and quiet is massively important to one’s mental and physical health. The combination of stress and worry is a very real and dangerous killer, and arguably, far more dangerous than anything associated with pipe tobacco. Government and societal crusades against pipe smoking completely miss the point: the unhealthy addiction of our time is the constant need to fill our daily life with phones, texts, screens, machines, and the technological noise of a world gone mad.