Yesterday we held our monthly pipe club meeting here at Smokingpipes.com. After work, we all gathered around an open area near the back of the office, cracked a few vintage tins from Shane's personal cellar, poured a glass of Dark & Stormy's, and packed our pipes. The topic of the meeting was Father the Flame, the first feature-length pipe smoking documentary ever made.
Having been given a special, 30-minute clip of the film to view in a private screening, we all huddled together around the projector and watched as our hobby came to life on the screen. While the highlights like Sykes' explanation of Danish pipe making, interviews with Jeff Gracik and Antoine Grenard, and clips of briar-hunting with Mimmo were all quite promising, there was one line that stayed with me for the rest of the night.
Think about your local pipe club. How many times have members brought in an old tin of tobacco, passed around the sugar-crystal speckled flakes for everyone to sample, reserving nothing more than a single bowl for themselves? How many times have the veteran pipers among your group taken the time to teach those just starting their journey? Probably more times than you can count. This is the beauty of our hobby. Our knowledge, our cellar, even occasionally our pipes themselves... everything is communal — treasures valued as much for what they let us share as what they bring us personally.
When we purchase a new pipe or acquire an old tin of tobacco, we want to show it to others. We don't hoard it for ourselves. We share it. This sense of community, this communal atmosphere is the very backbone of our hobby when you think about it. You can even see it in pipe making. Think about Sixten Ivarsson, for example. No doubt, Sixten was a genius, but a genius who keeps his knowledge to himself isn't all that important in the grand scheme of things. Luckily the late Ivarsson did pass his knowledge down, not only to his son and granddaughter, but to a whole host of artisans — who then, in turn, passed their knowledge down to other pipe makers all around the globe. Without this shared knowledge, the entire artisanal pipe making movement as we know it likely would have never even happened.
I encourage you to take a moment and reflect on this idea. Can you find examples of this community and communal atmosphere in your own pipe smoking life? Has anyone influenced you? Have you passed on your own knowledge to others? With International Pipe Smoking Day just around the corner, it's important to take some time and really appreciate what we're a part of. 'Cause it really is a beautiful thing.