When alone, a cigar is a way to reflect and collect one’s thoughts. Many aficionados are content to sit by themselves with no other stimulus and consider issues in life, be them trivial or profound. The slow roll of the smoke and the lingering flavor is a way to slow down and remember that life, like the brown leaves, is burning away and should be cherished for all the work and effort that comprises it.
Marcus Aurelius wrote in his “Meditations” that a man should be able to retreat within himself when he feels the need to escape the world, for a man cannot always convalesce to a beach or mountain home to become isolated, but he has always with him his own mind and conscience.
In this, a man should be able to withdraw into his thoughts and his own soul to escape and remove himself from the overwhelming world in which he has so little control. I believe in this sentiment, and have come to find that cigars are a method through which I am able to smoothly transport to that place of mental serenity, as if striking a match equates to turning the ignition and beginning a cerebral retreat.
As unusual or un-Christian as it may sound, many of my most heartfelt prayers and penitent moments with God have come at the butt of a Man O’ War or Rocky Patel.
One is hard pressed to come off a cigar feeling less content with the happenings of life than before they began it, and based on multiple conversations with others I am sure to not be the only person who feels this way.
The social cigar is another great thing and is valuable in its own ways. I firmly believe, and have witnessed repeatedly, that a cigar can bring out of even the immature man conversations of depth and understanding. One would be very hard pressed to find an instance of a group sitting to enjoy a smoke in which the ensuing conversation was of purely trivial topics, or where regret for having given both time and cigar to the persons involved was greater than the appreciation for the conversation and company.
My closest friends and I consistently indulge in discussions pertaining to life, death, humanity, relationships and philosophies amongst the smoke. This simple roll of combustible leaves is often a catalyst for respect and connection between human beings, even in an instance of getting to know a new person for the first time.
Many consistent cigar smokers openly offer their own cigars to others, even when hardly knowing them; for the time spent in their enjoyment is always well received. It is not difficult to be grateful for all that was brought by the cigar you let somebody else smoke.
It is a thing that is associated often with degrees of manliness and sophistication. Cigars do bring these things about in an individual, but not necessarily for the reasons people often assume.
Yes, a cigar can give presence to a modest man on aesthetics alone. But the act of smoking a cigar, especially with others, deepens relationships and subtly develops a sense of character that is reflected in the one who partakes.
And while it may seem strange to think of a female cigar aficionada, they do exist and are just as welcome (if not more so) into any given group of smoking men for their rarity of company as well as perspective. It is for this that I think people see the character of it, even though it is not often recognized as such.
Whatever the case, I continue to keep cigars as a part of my life because they help reinforce meditations, thoughts, prayers and the most valued of friendships. I cannot imagine what my personality would be like without the effects that cigars have covertly melded into it. The secondary and tertiary effects on lifestyle and mental health are very much real, and are nearly impossible to deny by anybody who has experienced them firsthand.
* Mr. Smith is a student at the University of Northern Iowa.