Tough decisions…

Life is full of them, they are around every corner and lurk behind every major event in life. We spend our lives making tough decisions, and either becoming better for them, or regretting them down the road. Chicago was my tough decision this year. In the pipe smoking community, the CPCC show is the event of the year, and although just as beneficial, all other shows pale in comparison. I have seen pictures and read articles touting the glorious treasure trove of pipes and tobacco that litter the floor at the show, not to mention the bartering and dealings that go on in the rooms pre-show. Oh, the excitement that these stories and pictures create, I get palpitations just thinking about it.

I had decided months ago that I would go to Chicago. With the ever increasing limitations on smoking, it has been said that this would the last Chicago show as we know it. No, I’m not implying that it will end, or trying to start any sort of rumor, just simply stating that what was previously enjoyed as a smoke friendly show, may not remain that way. So, it seemed only proper that I do what must be done and attend this year in order to experience it in all of its glory. Unfortunately, that decision had to change at some point. Many, many hours were spent struggling with the decision not to go, and after some time with a calculator and advice from a very good friend, it was settled that it was best to pass this year.

Any of you that are regular readers (as regular as you can be without regular posts) know that I have started carving. It dawned on me while doing the ‘To go or not to go” tug of war that this is where I need to focus. Chicago was going to be no cheap trip, and this was not even considering the temptation to buy anything at the show. So, I decided that I would be better off spending my money on getting my shop set up, and be able to make a lasting contribution with my carving, than dropping hundreds just to GET to Chicago, and not even be able to spend and support the community while there.

Now, I was going somewhere with this beyond my decision not to go. I have a few things to say about some going’s on that I have seen in the recent month or so leading up to the Chicago show. I will address one thing in particular, and I will do so without mentioning names, or the forum upon which I saw this occur. Recently, a member expressed his disappointment in not being able to attend Chicago, and expressed that some of his justification was because of the restrictions upon smoking that exist as well as trouble with flights. In response, he was flamed for his reasoning or justification. This particular thread also turned into a flame war about pipes and the cost and benefit of various prices. I am going out on a limb here, and will probably piss a few people off, but I think it needs to be said. This is not just in regards to the specific exchange that occurred on this forum, but regular, constant bashing and flame wars that exist. I am not the first to address this issue and I am quite sure I will not be the last but we as a community need to do some serious soul searching. With the direction we are going, it is less likely that the anti’s will defeat us, and more likely that our destruction will come from within. If history has shown us anything, it is that any cause, any organization or group of people who share a common interest or belief, can only survive by supporting each other. Not to be hokey, but I think of the old fable of the Father and his Sons, and if it has been too long, let me refresh your memory:

A FATHER had a family of sons who were perpetually quarreling among themselves. When he failed to heal their disputes by his exhortations, he determined to give them a practical illustration of the evils of disunion; and for this purpose he one day told them to bring him a bundle of sticks. When they had done so, he placed the bundle into the hands of each of them in succession, and ordered them to break it in pieces. They tried with all their strength, and were not able to do it. He next opened the bundle, took the sticks separately, one by one, and again put them into his sons’ hands, upon which they broke them easily. He then addressed them in these words: “My sons, if you are of one mind, and unite to assist each other, you will be as this bundle, uninjured by all the attempts of your enemies; but if you are divided among yourselves, you will be broken as easily as these sticks.”

We as a community are no different than this fable, when we stand individually, we are no greater than a single stick against the might of a greater cause, but if we stand, united and gather strength in numbers, we will prevail.

It is simple, and aside from the hokey reference to an old fable, I am sick and tired of seeing this over and over again. Whether it is about the price of a pipe, which tobacco you smoke, or whether you can or cannot attend a show, it does not justify degrading and bashing a fellow brethren. This hobby will never survive if we do not continue to refresh the ranks, and I can assure you, as a younger member of this community, that if the young passerby encounters the immature ignorant behavior of certain forums, they will move on. I know, because I have done so, and it is shame that it had to happen. It is time for all of us to take stock, eat crow once in awhile and make an effort to be a more inviting, accepting and courteous community. So, to put it simply, and those of you that fit know who you are… grow up. Pipe smokers are supposed to be thoughtful, caring, contemplative individuals, not children on a playground that get pissed because their friend wont let them play with their GI Joe. If you want to act that way, go buy a bubble pipe and find a sandbox to sit it.

~Justin

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4 thoughts on “Tough decisions…

  1. Justin, Pipesmoking is purely a hobby for me. As such, as soon as it is no longer something fun to do, I’m out of here. Just as you mention in the forums portion of the post, I too have left forums because of their inhospitable nature. All of us have to make hard decisions, however it’s an easy decision to be kind to your fellow man(pipesmoker).
    Regards, D

  2. I agree with you wholeheartedly, Justin. Pipe smokers are much better positioned to damage ourselves than we are to be damaged by others. Your fable is a good lesson of which to be reminded.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  3. Your essay is not, I repeat, NOT particular to pipe smoking. It is a common problem among all activities that are under attack by the modern culture of nannyism, conformity and domination.

    Your post could be repeated by simply replacing all smoking references with suitable phrases regarding gun ownership, and it would still be 100% accurate.

  4. As a newbie to the pipe world and its various forums and blogs and etc. I have gotten the initial impression that most pipe smokers are decent writers, deep thinkers, and refreshingly odd.

    It’s inevitable that intelligent folks getting together to enjoy their hobby are going to attract the attention of those annoying people who just want to get in and stir up the crap from the bottom because they’re safe at home, sitting in front of their monitor in their underwear and scratching.

    I say let the rest of us “twigs” stick together and be strong, and let the troublemakers hang out by the fires they start.

    Alone.

    With no marshmallows.

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