This post is inspired by a friend, someone who cares enough about my health and well-being to offer me criticism.
Recently I made the choice to start smoking cigars. Prior to this I had never even bought a pack of cigarettes, and would smoke only when offered one in a social setting. Whenever I did smoke, the cigarette was either flavourless or badly flavoured so I would do no more than take a few puffs and immediately exhale – as far as I’m aware habitual cigarette smokers breathe all the way into the lungs. Add to that the constant barrage from advertising and media about the detrimental health effects of smoking, I had little incentive to involve myself with them any more than that.
Cigars seemed different, somehow. Even in wine lore there are flavour and aroma profiles characterised as “cigar” or “cigar box”, and a cursory search of various cigar reviews showed the usage of similar terminology (vanilla, woody, etc…) as when describing wines.
How would we know what cigars or cigar boxes tasted/smelled like unless we made a conscious effort to explore them? Or should we just continue to read reviews and articles and take their word for it?
The investigation of the meaning of words is the beginning of education. -Antisthenes http://t.co/EuYOcpfz2Z
— Philosopher Quotes (@PhilosophersSay) February 25, 2015
Why do people become interested in wine in the first place? I believe it’s because wine offers such a wide range of aromas and flavours to explore, coupled with a rich history that can be studied and understood, and it’s ability to bring people together in social settings. You can’t have that kind of thing with soft drinks.
At the same time, I see it as just one facet of the human impulse to collect experiences that add flavour to our lives. Foodie culture is another expression, hopping from venue to venue to try the latest gastronomical creations on offer.
Travel, flying all over the world to explore different cultures, is perhaps the most extreme way we do this, by literally removing ourselves from our old world and being inserted into a new one.
For myself, this has simply translated into smoking cigars. I enjoy savouring the various flavours and aromas. I have come to appreciate being able to find a quiet spot where the world fades away, and there is nothing but the wind in my hair and the smoke of my cigar.
As with all things, however, we should be mindful of how we indulge ourselves. With wine, I have cautioned against overfilling your glass and drinking too much, One should always be spitting frequently at wine tastings.
With food, there is nothing wrong with pursuing new flavours, but if you overindulge you are likely to become overweight. If you travel too much you will likely blow out your budget and become stuck in some foreign country, penniless. Moderation applies to all things, not just wine.
Another reason why I never smoked stemmed from observing those that do – with few exceptions they were pack-a-day habitual smokers, scrounging those precious few minutes to get that nicotine hit to combat their stress, either real or imagined. This could easily cost them hundreds of dollars a week, not to mention the detrimental effects on their health.
In contrast, I view cigar smoking as an activity that requires a certain amount of discipline. One does not simply finish a cigar in a few minutes – often I take more than an hour, quietly contemplating its various aromas and flavours. I take a closer look at my life and how I spend my time, eliminate any wasted activity like window shopping or the lazy coffee purchase, and enjoy my hour in peace.
Of course there are people who smoke multiple cigars a day – I don’t plan to join their ranks any time soon. Things could change in a years time and I may look like a hypocrite when we look back at this post, but I can only promise that I will exercise vigilance.
In the end, the urge to collect experiences is a very human impulse – a person with no impulses, no hopes or desires, would simply be boring, like the loner sitting in the quiet corner in a party. But part of being a complete person is learning how to control these impulses as well, to avoid overindulgence.
None of this should read as a justification for my decision to smoke cigars – it should be treated as one person’s musings about one facet of life. I don’t deny the possible health effects of smoking cigars but for now I don’t plan to stop, just as foodies won’t stop eating or travelbugs won’t stop flying around and taking Facebook selfies.
Some people impulse shop for shoes, or even wine (which could turn out to be fake anyway). Others throw their nights away by binge-drinking. There are worse ways for a man to channel their impulses.
Read more: 5 Reasons To Have Wine On A Date