Art is a support system for life…and enjoying a good cigar is an art.
“…put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.” Stephen King On Writing
For a long time, writing was the center of my life. I wrote about all I encountered and much of what I thought. High school. College. Army. Work. Home. All were locations and channels for my thoughts placed on paper. I carried books and paper with me everywhere. Read and write. Write and read. These were my passions. I started to shift my paradigm when my middle school son said, “Dad, do you have to take the books into the movie theater?” No. I didn’t. After two divorces and five job firings in three careers over 20 years, I realized there were lots of places I didn’t need to carry books and paper. In fact, I realized that writing wasn’t the center of my life. My family was. It is, and it remains so.
My son and I talk more, my wife and I have been married for more than 18 years, and I retired from teaching to spend time with family and to write. My first book comes out in November: Spanish Cedar.
That brings up another matter. What supports life, what fuels us, and what brings us joy? If we cannot define that, we will have a rough time until we do, for without the clear idea of what brings us joy and peace of mind, our personal lives and careers will be in turmoil.
I picked up a cigar for the first time in the Army. I don’t know the occasion, but the military was an alone time for me. As noted above, I was not building relationships, but I was writing a lot. A cigar or three from the base exchange lasted me a weekend; weekdays were exhausting. I parked in a café with a cup of coffee or a bottle of Lancers, dropped a quarter in the juke box, lit a stick and wrote. Hour after hour. The drink, music, stick, pen, and paper were my best companions for a year or two.
The cigar went out when I got married and remarried and remarried. But one evening, twenty years later, my wife suggested a light up at a friend’s party, and I began this quiet journey of contemplation with rolled leaf in hand.
My poetry is about these ideas of relationships with loved ones and strangers, with cigars and the paraphernalia of the ritual, and with specific cigars and their homes. Think about it. Welcome conversations and writings into your homes and businesses. Embrace the connections between your world and experiences and those of your friends and strangers you meet along the paths you travel. Consider the many ways of communication available to us today, but never forget it begins with the eye contact and the handshake and the hug.
That’s my call.