My youngest son, Zachariah, used to smoke cigarettes. I’m glad to say that he has quit and has been smoke-free for almost four weeks. However, at the time, he would harass me about how long it took me to enjoy a cigar.
“A cigarette takes me less than two minutes,” my hyperactive son said. “You’ve been sitting in that chair for over an hour.”
I put my finger in my book, reserving my place as I closed it before glancing up at him. “A cigarette is akin to a one night stand. A cigar is a committed relationship.”
My son wanted his fix and move on. When I sit down to have a cigar, it’s not for any other reason than to enjoy my time. It’s not a need or a craving. It’s a leisure activity that says, “It’s time to relax and slow down.”
In an article in Cigar Aficionado, Jeremy Irons is quoted as saying, “To me, cigar smoking is about the leisure. There’s this life we have where we’re all tearing about all the time. But if you sit down and smoke a good cigar, you’re saying, ‘I have time for this.’” And Mr. Irons is absolutely correct. You don’t rush a cigar. You can’t cram it in on a work break. It requires time to sit back or, as Winston Churchill would do, wander through a forest. It allows you time to think and meditate, read a book or, in my case, write one. You don’t smoke cigars because you have to, but because you want to.
And you have the time.
We are a busy people, running from this event to that meeting, trying to cram as much activity into one day as we can. Three of our kids - Heather, Zac, and the 8 year-old - are this way. They despise sitting still. They almost always need to be doing something. Get up. Get out. Get moving. However, there is something to be gained from staying down, staying in, and staying still. We need those moments of leisure to help us recharge for the next activity. They keep us from burning out.
I used to be a member of a church that believed it was better to “burn out then burn up.” That was an asinine slogan if ever there was one. There is quite a bit I still wish to accomplish before the girls get my life insurance. Trying to cram it all in as fast as I can will only rush me to an early demise, leaving most of it unfulfilled. Slow down. Take a deep breath. Discover those moments where you can sit and relax, enjoy good friends, a sunset, or delve into a good book. All of these modern technological marvels were meant to make life easier so that we could actually live, not merely exist. It’s okay to sit back and do nothing, because in that nothing there is actually something.
Leisure doesn’t mean lazy. It means relaxed, unstressed and calm. Don’t be afraid of it. Instead, embrace it. Whether you join me on the back porch with a cigar or not, join me in setting aside time to relax. You’ll enjoy the active part of your life more if you do. You might even live longer.
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