Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Spirituality And Pipe Smoking

Today is Wednesday. Most work weeks Wednesday is the high point of my personal productivity and from what I can tell it appears that most of the people around me on the same schedule. I have been studying myself and others for years and here is a summary of my self observations.

Mondays. I start out slow and begin to fizzle out almost immediately.

Tuesdays. An intense but short lived burst of energy early in the morning gives me hope for personal productivity that is soon dashed on the rocks.

Wednesdays. I spend the day in the illusion that I'm nearly attaining my peak of a full 85% productivity rate.

Thursdays. Weariness catches up with me from the one burst of energy I had on Tuesday coupled with the mental strain of maintaining the illusion of productivity all day on Wednesday.

Fridays. Completely exhausted from everything I did Monday through Thursday, I pray to a higher power to energize me long enough to get back home so I can crash and burn in the comfort of my Lazy Boy chair.

Today, however, I must conserve my energy because I am picking up my granddaughter, Chloe, from the day care after I get off from work.

When I was in my early thirties I decided to smoke a pipe. I did it because I loved the aroma of pipe tobacco. I had often been in a gathering of people and the fragrance of carefully blended pipe tobacco would waft through the crowd and I thought it smelled wonderful. I went out and bought a beginner's pipe and some tobacco. I soon discovered, much to my dismay, that while smoking a pipe one could not smell the pleasing aroma. Whenever I smoked my pipe other people enjoyed it. Some even asked me to smoke just so they could enjoy the sweet smell. I, however, could never enjoy the aroma of my own pipe smoking even though I did enjoy the relaxing and contemplative nature of pipe smoking. I believe all of this is a metaphor for the spiritual life. When one is living a spiritual life, like when smoking a pipe, you don't really enjoy your own spiritual qualities. Your holiness and goodness cannot really be perceived by yourself. Only other people can experience your holiness and goodness. A spiritual person may be aware they are living a spiritual life, like a pipe smoker is aware they are smoking, but they don't really enjoy the effects of their spiritual life as much as those around a pipe smoker enjoy the fragrance of pipe smoke. In spite of the fact that I couldn't enjoy the aroma of my own pipe smoke, I kept smoking for many years. I rarely smoke now for health reasons but I still have my entire collection of pipes. Some are quite valuable and others are real pieces of art. I also keep trying to live a spiritual life even though I rarely feel spiritual, I am not always aware of my own goodness, and I never feel like I am a holy person. I do know, however, that there are people who think I am spiritual and good and maybe even a little holy. If this is their experience of me, like pleasing aromas are the experience of people around a pipe smoker, than I am happy and perhaps my purpose in life is being partially fulfilled. All goodness and holiness is a gift of God and not of our own doing. Living a spiritual life is really more about openness to God's grace rather than doing things to achieve holiness through our own efforts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent post! I am a pipe smoker and I too try to pay attention to my spiritual life. As you point out, it can be a disappointment that I can't enjoy the aroma of my own smoke the way others do.

Others around me are sure to be the first ones to notice when my upkeep of my spiritual condition has changed.

I suppose it is a good thing we need others for the full appreciation of our spirtuality or we could just lock ourselves away. I feel a ramble coming on.

Anyway, I am happy to have run across this post, it gives me something to meditate on.

Thanks for sharing.