There is a lesson in these words for pipe smokers like me.
Non-traditional pipe shapes have not had a place in my personal collection. As much as I love & adore all forms of art and artistic expression & believe its discussion, analysis, evaluation & idea dissemination exceptionally crucial to making the pipe world filled with more variety, I simply don’t have any “artistic pipes”. For myself, when it comes to shapes that do not connect to some degree to traditional shape-chart pipes, it is simply a difficult thing to imagine them hanging from my mouth. Now however in this new year, after many years of listening to both my own ideas & all the other unique artisan’s out there exploring new shapes & new shape concepts, I have finally obtained my first ‘non traditional’ pipe.
To understand the personal difficulty I was experiencing, simply imagine the following visual. Bing Crosby smoking a Revyagin. It is just a difficult marriage to conceive. One does not seem to go with the other. That is essentially where I have been for all these years. It is one thing to admire these pipes as art but quite another to accept them as actual smoking instruments.
The bulk of my collection is in standard shapes. Beautiful pipes that I obviously adore, all represented in shapes that we easily understand and quickly are able to define. I have not been a total loss all these years when it comes to exploring something different in pipes. Many if not most of my pipes, have some minor element of unusual attached to their design. A little asymmetry here, a little twist there, an extra line, facet or piece of plateuax in some unusual place. All sure and well and good. All in all though, my pipes have remained rooted within shapes easily classified via the traditional shape catalog.
The piece in my collection which previously held the definition of ‘my weirdest shape’ was this asymmetrical Bulldog by Revyagin. Even this pipe however, with it’s surfer shape bottom and asymmetry elements all over, while still a unique concept to be sure, still remains firmly rooted inside the standard shape of a Bulldog.
This type of pipe did serve a purpose though. It slowly allowed me to accept the idea of having something ‘different looking’ hanging off of my mouth. A small stepping stone pipe, so to speak.
Now, I have taken a giant leap. This new pipe is definitely my ‘oddest’ shape. I have officially taken the plunge into ‘non-traditional’ shape territory. Sorry Marty for forcing you to avert your eyes but it is over due. I have been writing about these ideas for several years now. The day has come where I have to start listening to myself.
It is a pipe from Eder Mathias. Frankly, the maker of the pipe has little bearing on this action. No doubt about it, Eder made a fantastic pipe and I am falling in love with it but this story is not about Eder, it’s about me. You can read more about Eder here if you like, now back to my experience.
This shape, although it does contain a bend (something that still is a requirement no matter how un-classifiable the shape is) has no known & defined silhouette attached to it.
I looked at myself with this pipe in the mirror for quite some time. Each glance at my reflection was initially met with a small chuckle. I was laughing at this oddly shaped piece of briar & trying my best to keep my hand from clutching the pipe & taking it away. Now, as I sit back & relax & smoke some Escudo in this pipe I realize that yes, this pipe is in fact just like any other pipe. How silly of me to spend so much time defining what I can and cannot experience, just because of an idea. An idea mostly created by assumptions on external perceptions.
Taking this plunge enduces a similar feeling to both common life events like learning to ride a bike or perhaps even going swimming for the first time. It is a difficult first step to take when you have never taken such a step before. Once you do it however, it is simple smooth sailing.
It’s a beautiful pipe providing a great smoke and essentially, that is all it is & all it will ever be. Whatever else I thought I was attaching to the experience was all manifested in my head.
“How can anybody take me seriously when I have this thing in my mouth?”
“What will people think of me if they see me smoking this? They will definitely not think I am a serious person.”
And so on….
None of those ideas have anything to do with anything. Each and every shape on the “official” chart was at one time a new creation and a new idea, just like this pipe. This pipe has more details related to it but it has just as much right as any other shape to be out there in the world & considered. Just as with most things in life that we experience for the first time, the more time you spend with the idea and the more you let it soak in it, the less ‘dangerous’ and ‘odd’ it seems & the more harmless it eventually becomes.
I was scuba-diving one time when I glanced to the right and about 10’ down and I saw a decent sized shark swimming right below me. In the next two very clear seconds I felt the following in this sequence.
- Utter terror & fear.
- Oh look, the shark is totally ignoring me & just swimming.
- Wow, how beautiful a sight this is & how awesome of a moment.
- Oh man, was that 1st thought silly.
A sequence highlighting irrationality. Yes, even with a shark, believe me.
And that’s essentially how easy it is to see, experience & get over something like this. I would encourage this for any pipe smoker similar to me. I know we are not alone. Go out there and buy that weird shape you have been looking at for so long. Take that first step.
Now it is time for me to add some of these abstract looking pipes to my collection.
Images in Main Graphic are courtesy of AlPascia.
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