Monday, March 3, 2014

A Clean Pipe

I sit on my balcony on this unseasonably cool morning listening to the pitter-patter of the odd, pre-hot season rains.  Every day this week we have had these wonderfully short little showers that cool the breezes and wash the air.  It is not the muggy, heavy air of the monsoon.  Monsoon air is still warm from the heat of April and May and carries in it the overflowed sewers and flooded streets that are the direct result of that delugional period of the calendar.  This air is Spring air.  Fresh and alive.  It dampens the sounds of the tuk-tuk traffic and the horns seem to be carried more distant by the gentle breeze that it rides.

I sit on my balcony in this near perfect mix of air and water because I wanted to start working on a book.  This book has been building in my mind since college and I've been fairly surprised I haven't run across it already written.  That tends to be the fate of most of my good ideas, someone else has already had them.  This theme of my life, which apparently no one else has written about, has been pushing against the membranes of procrastination and doubt and feels as though the time for delivery has come.  The idea was conceived in college while listening to my favorite professor at that notable institution and it has been slowly and powerfully germinating all those years since.  Since I vocalized a few weeks ago to my young and hot wife that I was going to finally write my book I began to slide into a completely debilitating state of depression.  These last few weeks have been miserable.  My camping equipment has continued to dwell in its fabric state and my aspirations of greatness for this year have dwindled to a mere survival mentality.  A combination of personal doubts, my own self labeling, and the influence of certain parties who do not want said book to be written had pushed me this morning to a near comatose attitude lying on my bed trying to motivate myself to get ready for yet another day.

My young and hot wife saw me in this stupor and in her beautiful and compassionate manner was able to make me see past some of the notions that were festering and reproducing in my diseased mind.  So I decided to start my book.  What follows may explain why my book has yet to be commenced.

If one is going to begin booking it is advisable from this party to begin in the manner of many of the great minds of old.  That manner includes a hot beverage and a venerable briar, preferably with an English tobacco.  I have been cleaning and smoke waxing my pipes recently and the most venerable briar to have yet to receive this treatment was my Peterson St. Patrick's day 2004 shape 606 pot.  This pipe is meaningful to me in particular because 2004 is the year I was wed to my young and hot wife and the celebration of St. Patrick falls on her birthday every year.  The 606 is also a shape that is scholarly in proportion and sweet in smoking and so I had a mind to load it up with the last remnants of what has become one of my favorite English blends, Cornell & Diehl's #970P Pirate Kake.  I could wax poetical about this superb tobacco but as my mind began drifting in that direction I was shocked into a state of enhanced reality when I noticed the abject and discolored nature of this particular pipe's stem.  For my reader who stands outside of the Brotherhood of the briar I will explain shortly the chemical and natural reaction that can present itself in the stem of one's favorite pipe.  My Peterson St. Patrick's day 2004 shape 606 pot has a stem made of vulcanized rubber which gives it a comfortable, slightly chewy feel in the mouth and is near perfect for sitting down and writing one's life journey book, or as it has devolved currently, to one's blog. Vulcanized rubber has the unfortunate propensity to oxidize and like rusted steel is not quite as tasty as polished so oxidized rubber not only creates a distracting taste that detracts from Cornell & Diehl's #970P Pirate Kake's symphony of flavors but it also looks atrocious.  Similar to pond scum on an oily puddle instead of the bright polish of the shoes of a Gordon Highlander on parade that a pipe stem should reflect.  Look at the stem on Dad's wizard pipe and I'm sure you will see a perfect example of this chemical reaction.

One simply cannot begin his or her life work with such a mouthpiece and so the pipe was loving triaged and treated.  A little baking soda and water was mixed together and briskly rubbed on the stem.  This mixture quickly turned from pristine white to the brown of well trafficked snow and in that brown tincture the oxidation was removed.  Unfortunately I no longer have at my disposal a buffing wheel to bring the wet shine out of my dear mouth piece but an application of Olive Oil returned it to a comfortably black matte.

The reason I share this episode at all as I lovingly rub bees wax on the warm bowl of my newly cleaned pipe is to communicate the feeling of setting something right.  Of giving my venerable Peterson St. Patrick's day 2004 shape 606 pot a new lease on life.  A fresh beginning for a pipe that had aged and become diseased with lack of care.  I was amazed to see what a fresh application of attention and concern could do to turn this wearied warrior into something that could once again deliver the multifaceted flavors of my favored English blend without distraction and with a renewed sweetness.  It took the loving words of my young and hot wife to do the same thing to the horrible and confining state of my own mind this morning.  I am not returned to museum quality but most tools in that state are not used but simply displayed.  My pipe now looks like a tool that can be enjoyed but also used.  There are bite marks on the stem that stubbornly refuse the baking soda treatment.  There is a patch of filler on the grain where a sand pit presented itself in the making of the pipe.  The edge of the bowl is slightly singed from loving use.  But it is loved and it is useful and so am I.

The lies that fill our minds and disable us are not the blocks that build us up, however much we try to convince ourselves that we must continue to harden and steel ourselves against the burdens and pains of life.  A wonderful play I once saw performed, yet whose title eludes me, carried the line, "You are hard like steel mama, but you're cold."  Steel can cut and shape and mold.  I have a sword for that.  In opposition I desire to be usable.  I desire to bring comfort.  As my bowl fills with a fine gray dottle I don't want to be polished and I desperately need to stop striving for it.  I want the warm glow of a used but clean pipe.

1 comment:

Grandpa and Grandma F said...

You have always amazed me with your words. I can't wait to read the book that you have planned. Boo to those who would discourage you from writing it. May God bless you as you take this step forward. Thanks Lindsey for your encouragement to him. Josh you have so much to offer. I learn so much from your blog. I can only imagine what I would learn from a book that is from your heart.