In reading others’ blog entries this week, I am immediately intrigued too by MAR’s commentary on smoking in his first place entry. Perhaps it’s the reformed smoker in me that relates to these ideas. I remember thinking about this issue often while in Sequoia National Park: sitting on the side of a trail during a long hike and taking a smoke break, being far into the backcountry away from all other humans and smoking around camp at night, climbing a mountain with a pack of cigarettes easily-accessible in my pack. Tobacco was a huge part of my life there, then, as it was for everyone I knew. And I remember thinking so many times how its very existence seemed in conflict with my that place and that very life. How hypocritcal I felt.
It makes me think about that question of “natural” vs “unnatural” – is smoking a natural behavior? Is there some contradiction in the idea of being in a natural place while doing it? Tobacco also grows, much like the dormant plants in the community garden that MAR describes, so that should mean it’s inherently a natural process. But at the same time, there feels, intuitively, like something unnatural in it.
And while I’m four years reformed – now it’s so hard to even imagine that I was ever a smoker in the first place – this entry made me want to know more about the whole aspect of tobacco growing, the history and culture and myth. These are facts I should know, living now in a state where the primary revenue source is tobacco. A state where it’s really a whole way of life. I’ve been given much to meditate on further!