Pipe Smoking, Uncategorized

Music For Afternoon Tea

cup-of-tea-1437144-mLately, I’ve been relaxing a lot with a hot cup or pot of tea and some music. Now, being the lazy blogger that I am, I thought “Hey, this would make a good article!”

Seriously though, nothing enchances pipe smoking and tea than some good music. Here are a few of my favorite songs to play while drinking.

The Circle of Life (both from the movie and the musical) – This is a standard go to for me as I find it relaxing. It’s interesting enough that you could lose yourself in the details if you focus on it, but not so in your face that you can’t just leave it playing in the background as you focus on your pipe or cup of tea.

How Blue Can You Get (BB King Live In Cook County Jail) – Another personal favorite of mine, I just love listening to this song while having my tea and smoking my pipe on a lazy afternoon. His guitar playing and soulful singing relaxes me without putting me to sleep.

Circus (Eric Clapton Unplugged) – This is a song I usually breakout when I’m feeling a bit melancholic. The song’s emotions matches my mood quite well during these times and allows me to work through whatever issues I’m dealing with.

Only If For A Night (Florence + The Machine) – Something a little more upbeat. The vocals make you feel like you’re floating over clouds created by the beat. It is absolutely lovely when paired with a nice black tea and some Cavendish Tobacco for those days when you want to perk up.

Hotel California (The Eagles) – While I know a lot of my friends normally associate this song with a few beers, I’ve found it to be quite a good match for an early afternoon tea and smoke break.

Anything classical – Classical music, tea, and pipe smoking is a match made in heaven and is something that has always been a standby for others who do indulge in tea and pipe smoking. I decided to throw it in just to silence the indignant looks by traditionalists.

Of course this doesn’t mean that these are the only music I listen to, or that you should listen to. If you want to listen to Dio or Metallica while enjoying your afternoon tea, then by golly go for it. In case you’re wondering, I’ve been known to do so on occassion as well.

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Pipe Smoking

Carrying the load

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I’ve been noticing that my friends have had a number of problems in their lives recently: losing loved ones, emotions taxed to the limit, workload too heavy, and more. Essentially a variety of other things that feels like you were shot in the gut and leaves you reeling.

Normally, I think the first reaction of a lot of people would be to just “power through it”. Hell, I’ve done that for years on end. It ended with me having an emotional breakdown. Something I wouldn’t wish on anyone, especially not people who I care about.

So what is one to do when one encounters challenges in their life? Back down? I say no. Face it head on. Deal with the grief and the pain. Confront it, think about it, and break it down. Pick yourself up after you’ve had time to sort out yourself. And only then should you move on.

Yes, I know it’s easy to put down on paper but hard to do. Nonetheless, I’ve found that my hobbies are a good way to help me unwind and get back into the saddle again.

When I find that life is getting to be too much for me, I tend to do two things. The first is think, and it helps to have a pipe in hand, a nice black cavendish blend, a nice cup of earl grey d’amour tea in front of me, and some time to think. During this time I face the pain head on. Depending on the circumstances it may take a single session of rumination or even me brooding in my spare time for a week or more. Regardless, I deal with it and give myself time to do so.

This stepping back allows me to put my mind into focus again. It acts as a catalyst in solidifying my resolve in dealing with the problem. It also helps me decide on my course of action in handling the issue. A decision made with a clear and analytic mind, not one clouded by emotions and pain.

The second thing I do is lift weights. More often than not, the problems we encounter today are not physical. Much to my dismay, I can’t punch my problems till it bleeds or drop elbows on it until it wishes it didn’t exist. However, lifting weights gives me the physical release I need. It gives me that physical aspect in dealing with the aggression I so often feel when thinking about problems.

This is not to say I don’t lift weights when life is going good, I just happen to hit my weights harder when I have problems.  The act of doing this mechanical thing, fighting against gravity to move an object that refuses to budge makes me feel better. At the end of it all, I find my aggression tempered enough that it is easier to make a proper decision, one that isn’t colored by the need to hurt someone or do something drastic.

After all this, I act. I try to resolve the problem and make it better. A younger me would have acted immediately, even if I had time to step back and think about it. Nowadays, I find that my rituals make for better decision making. Of course, there are things which need to be acted upon immediately. For those cases I may skip my weights (but you can bet my next workout will be very intense) but not the time to think with my favorite pipe in hand and a cup of tea.

That said, I know this won’t work for everyone. People deal with their problems in their own way, and step back in their own manner. I guess I just want this to serve as a reminder to everyone to step back from their problems and give it the time it needs. More importantly, I want to remind everyone to give themselves time to deal with the pain and grief they feel. Those emotions are all too real and it is important to give yourself time to recover from it, in the same way one would recover from a wound or an illness.

After all, what is emotional pain and grief but a wound in one’s soul.

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Pipe Smoking

My pipe smoking journey so far.

Pipe SmokingI can’t remember when I first picked up a pipe. It was over half a decade ago or so and I did so on a whim or was it? I think I needed something that would help me reconnect with the men who have helped shape me into the person I am today. It became a crutch, a way for me to pretend that my father and grandfather were still alive. I even found myself imagining what I would say to them when I got home.  Needless to say, coming home was heartbreaking every time. I ended up dropping it after a few months.

After a lot of soul searching and dealing with a lot of emotional baggage,  I find myself coming back to it. I can’t help but think I started pipe smoking for the wrong reasons or that I lacked the maturity to appreciate the art of it. Perhaps a little of both. But now that my mind is clearer, I gave it another chance, and I am glad it did.

Yes, it still remains a way for me to reconnect with my dad and my grandfather, I still imagine what I would tell them, but now it’s something more than that. I find that when I pick up my pipe, it lends me a certain amount of clarity. It is a perfect companion with a nice cup of tea and a good podcast or video. It lets me step back when my temper gets the best of me and view things with a better perspective. It makes good conversations amazing, and quiet time more meaningful. 

Now, I know you may think I am overstating things. Perhaps I am. I have been known to exaggerate. But that doesn’t change the fact that pipe smoking has given me a lot. I used to laughingly quote statements from other esteemed pipe men such as Mark Twain and Einstein, but I never understood what they meant. Perhaps I never will, but at least I have a little glimpse into what they were trying to say.

So I find myself, at 2 AM, drinking a pot of some Black Pagoda Tea, smoking a pipe, looking at pocket watches, and writing  my thoughts on a hobby and fascination that has captivated greater men than me in ages long gone. I feel thankful that I’ve decided to join the brotherhood of pipe smokers, a small spark in a room of bright flame, but a spark nonetheless. Sad, that I started this journey alone, that the people I wish to sit down with have gone on ahead to the great beyond. I feel hopeful, that this journey will never end and that I will always keep learning more and experiencing more things.

There are so many other things I want to say, but it is getting rather late. So till the next time, thank you for having the patience to go over my ramblings.

PS: Now, I know a lot of people in my life who love me condemn my smoking and keep warning me about how it will kill me.  I appreciate the concern, and I love you all but this is something I have decided to do. I know  you don’t understand, and I don’t expect you to. I just hope that you will respect my decision in this and that you will continue loving me. 

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