Young Pipe Smoker preparing Flakes for his Pipe (III)

Every so often – either looking for something in particular or just reviewing the material in general – I go through my nearly 70,000 digital pictures that I have taken with my Leica D-Lux 4 since May 2013. Deleting is not an option, so the work must be done every so often. However, each time it pays well with the rediscovering of fantastic shots that have yet to be put to use or the wonderful remembrance of situations that one could write about. It provides also a good feeling to see retrospectively how some dots connect – aesthetically, mentally, even at times philosophically and spiritually.

Today I came across about one hundred pictures that I took in January of last year at Nat Sherman of a young man. He sat next to me and began to prepare his Samuel Gawith Full Virgina Flakes. I cannot say anything about the time it took him to prepare the flakes, stuff the pipe and light it, but it was plenty of time for me to take over one hundred shots. As a result of reviewing this material, I am set into a philosophical mode.

It is not education, it is not culture, it is not family customs, it is something very own that brings a man after merely two decades in life to choose to smoke a pipe and to stuff it as if with it he was replacing the spiritual path habits of a monk that has spent two or more adult decades in a monastery.

One might say, that could very likely come from his surroundings. I disagree. Even observing a father or grand-father exercising similar rituals, it would require the inner acceptance of the young man to spend 20 minutes or more preparing for a ritual that will likely need an additional hour before it is over. The key I find here is the decision to discard the notion of time and focus on the action. I call it a silly and artificial philosophy game, when we ask if it was the hen or the egg that came first. Even deductions that might appear totally logical are too highly dependent on assumptions. It is practically a given that smoking flakes requires a certain amount of time just for the preparation of the tobacco before putting it in the pipe. But no individual will relaxed take the extended time for the preparation, only because the tobacco requires it. Any smoker who chooses to smoke a pipe and opts for the use of flakes, is already inclined to understand that it is not time that defines what we are, but what we do and how we do it.

Nat Sherman, New York, NY / Leica D-Lux 4
Nat Sherman, New York, NY / Leica D-Lux 4
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