Furthest Right

Pipe Meditations (July 22, 2023)

Blend: Peter Stokkebye Amsterdam Shag
Type: Dutch: dark fired Kentucky Burley, Virginias
Strength: the light side of medium-to-strong

Sometimes the best tobacco is that which family or friends purchase for you. Hopefully, you think, this is not a bribe; it tastes best when it shows up out of the blue, for no reason at all, independent of the schedules of the world and its people. It is just a friendly gift.

Technically, most people smoke this blend by rolling it into cigarettes, and undoubtedly it is quite good there, being like a sweeter version of the famous Drum blue packs. However, if your breath-smoking technique is on point, it makes for a great pipe smoke as well.

This reminds me again that there are two views to life. One views it as something to get through, and the other as something to be enjoyed. The ones who want to simply get through see life as a tangible object that one manipulates, rather than an experience in which self-discipline leads to joy.

For those who see life as something to get through or consume, life is a to-do list full of obligations to the herd with a small carve out for entirely personal time, which rapidly becomes perverse or debauched. They just want to make it through the process.

For those who see life as something to be enjoyed, we have jobs, technology, and political systems to serve the end goal, which is the pursuit of life as a thing in itself of intrinsic value. All questions of the meaning of life go away with that.

Among those who see life as a joy, the pursuit of enjoyment is different than how the herd pursues its desires. You do not seek to consume people, experiences, wine, food, etc, but to have all of the things in place to have a good time in the fullness of life, which means more than just sensual stimulus.

To really enjoy life, first of all, you have to decode it. Life is a mystery, which means a challenge and therefore, a potential great joy. It wants to be decrypted, analyzed, and reconstructed in your mind. It wants to unleash your intuition to unite creativity and critical thinking skills.

After that, you have to find not just a quantity of something to consume, but a quality of life to be experienced, which requires getting to the roots of things. What makes the best life? Perhaps it is mental clarity, followed by comfort, and then the joys of friends, family, culture, nature, and faith.

To smoke a tobacco like this, you must have glacial patience. You will want to pack it firmly since shag cuts admit a lot of air, but then light it gently; unlike other cuts, with this one the fire spreads very naturally. You stick it in the maw, light, and then breathe through your nose.

Every seven seconds or so you will open your lips. Smoke will escape the top of the pipe as the same time it leaks from the mouth. You can breathe normally through your nose, and this creates the pressure differential that draws smoke into the mouth, rolling over the tongue and gums.

Owing to the high presence of Virginias, which are sugary and therefore burn hot like a Tesla in an Arizona heat wave, you cannot puff, suck, draw, slurp, or otherwise force this tobacco. It will blaze up and fry your mouth. You have to let the smoke come to you.

In my experience, this means that you cannot smoke this tobacco like a BitChute pipe tobacco reviewer on your special cushion in a corner of your magical porch in your cool neighborhood with some elite IPA and cult literature spread out over your table with the custom tamper, engraved lighter, and so on.

You have to smoke it like someone taking a walk in the woods. You have to walk off the hangover, the ennui, and the resistance to doing anything — all things in the universe incur resistance and waste — before you can get to the easy pace, after which that “a-ha!” moment fills you with joy.

Maybe you started on a street or parking lot, but now you are in a cathedral of leaves with the purity of clarity in their desire to absorb sun and water, producing life-giving oxygen at the same time they condition the soil and make homes for many little creatures, including ourselves.

Suddenly life has new meaning. Rather: suddenly you understand its function, and see why it is beautiful, because it is the platform that allows you to think, choose, and enjoy. Set aside suffering for a moment; it is resistance and waste, as usual. Look at what makes life so lovely instead.

They call this transcendence. In a moment, you go from cynicism to seeing the brilliance of reality and appreciating this magick we call “Creation,” and you find within your intuition the knowledge that something very vast and very, very wicked smart made this out of a deep benevolence.

Even more you may intuit that the truly powerful are benevolent, even in their cruelest acts. Nature operates by predation, storm, and fire as much as by rain, sun, and breeze. But from the balance of these two comes the beauty of the forest. It is beyond good and evil. It is something better than good.

We might call it simply beauty, or perhaps function, or maybe wisdom, because in the end these conflate. They are not in opposition; the sanest design is the simplest and yet most flexible, resilient, and adaptive. John Calvin compared this transcendent moment to thunder:

His spirituality begins with the conviction that human beings do not so much “know” God as “experience” him indirectly, through his mighty acts and works in the world, as they experience but can hardly be said to know thunder, one of Calvin’s favourite metaphors for religious experience.

To feel distant thunder rumble through your body is to understand the vastness of the universe and yet appreciate its beauty. Its storms sweep away the non-functional and replace it with the functional, which makes the forest stronger, enhancing beauty and power.

In the same way, this blend sneaks up on you as a sudden realization that you have been really enjoying this pipe without sucking, vlogging, tamping, fussing, or any other fancypants nonsense. You have just been having a lunt in the woods, and suddenly life hammered you with beauty while you enjoyed a pipe.

Like the best of the classic blends, this one is a philosophy in itself: life is for enjoyment, so make it simple and clean, but give it enough internal nuance that someone lost in woolgathering and amazement can feel rather than articulate the many flavors within.

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