Much of my adult life I had smoked cigarettes. I truly enjoyed smoking but knew I needed to stop due to the health issues not to mention the costs. When my son Tyler was born, I quit smoking after several long attempts. Recently, I decided to smoke cigars occasionally. Honestly, the occasional cigar probably has kept me from going back to smoking cigarettes full time. Cigarettes were easily my number one stress reliever for many years and with all that has happened in the last couple years around covid I don’t need to mention the need for stress relief. I will occasionally have a cigar at home but I mainly I enjoy them when traveling for work. It gets me out of the hotel room and often has me walking around. What I forgot is how much I enjoyed the conversations I had with fellow smokers.
A few weeks back I was having a cigar and someone from my class came up and said if had gotten their earlier he would have joined me. I asked him to join me the following night for dinner and afterwards we could sit and have a cigar under the big Wyoming sky. As we sat and had our cigar the following night we talked about family and some of the struggles of being a dad. This gentleman was also a special needs dad. We had a somewhat emotional discussion of our lives and afterwards both admitted to how good it was to just sit and talk to another person who understood some of the struggles of raising children with unique needs.
The following week I had a very similar situation when in Florida. A younger man in my workshop joined me one night for dinner and later a cigar as we enjoyed the lovely weather of Florida. I had talked about some of my trauma history growing up earlier in the week in my workshop. That night as we had our cigars this man opened up about his trauma history. He asked questions about how certain relationships of mine were impacted and how they were eventually reconciled. We discussed some of the conflict resolution stepsnecessary to get to a point of repairing relationships. Especially, how to forgive for things we ourselves hand no control over.
Recently I was sitting outside smoking a cigar in California and having a conversation with a gentleman who was also smoking a cigar. This man had served two tours in Iraq, had retired from the army and was now a military consultant. As we both chatted about our lives he asked what I did for a living that had me traveling from Florida the week before to California this week. I told him I do de-escalation training. He said that he wished he would have had more of that before dealing with some of the issues he had to deal with when he was a captain in the army. In the thirty minutes or so while I enjoyed my cigar with this complete stranger, I realized that he and I know more about each other than people who had just met often do. The shared military connection and a cigar had sparked some really deep conversation points.
Just yesterday I got to enjoy a cigar on my deck with my 28-year-old son. As we sat out in the cold of South Dakota having a cigar together for the first time we got into some deep conversation points. Andrew and I have always had a pretty open relationship and the ability to share things we struggle with in our lives. As we sat and enjoyed our cigars, we chatted about a few things never shared before. I also realized that though we connect on a regular basis, it is never the same over facetime as it is face to face. No matter how close two people are, the truest connections still happen best when together in the same space.
Now, I should say I am not promoting smoking. However, as I sat and thought last night about these four separate cigar conversations it did dawn on me that my cigar smoking has allowed a few conversations to take place that otherwise may not have done so. Our ability to deal with our own crisis prevention often starts with the need to talk about those factors that lead to our own crisis’s. When we can find ways to talk about our struggles, share in the struggles of another and walk on common ground together, we are more likely to find ways to prevent crisis from occurring. As Doctor Allison Jackson says, “relationship is the evidence base practice.” I could not agree more!
Tim Geels – Director of Implementation and Governance