Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wanting something bad enough

I am an on-again, off-again smoker. I'm not particularly proud of it, but it's the truth. I know it's bad for me; I know it makes me feel horribly; and I know it's a bad example to the people I know and love. So, should I just throw up my hands and say "hey it's my life" and let the chips fall where they may?

I think my main problem with giving up smoking is that, all things considered, my health is pretty good. I'm a bit overweight but only by a few pounds; I don't really exercise but I walk our dog and I walk up and down five flights of stairs virtually every day. My diet is not perfect because I eat out virtually every day for lunch but I rarely have "real" junk food. Last time I checked, my blood pressure was pretty good. Except for a few aches and pains now and then and for pulling out my back maybe once a year and for the occasional attack of sciatica, I feel okay.

So the main problem is: I don't feel bad enough to quit smoking. How ironic it is that I feel compelled to wait for my body to give up the ghost before taking direct action. If only I could extrapolate five, 10, or 15 years down the road to the point where a doctor or my spouse would truly convinced me that giving up tobacco is a wise and necessary thing to do. But the enjoyment I received from my five or 10 cigarettes a day, especially those enjoyed with my coffee in the morning, cause my brain to look the other way while my nostrils in my mouth inhale the tobacco smoke.

It's always been somewhat of a pet peeve for me that "the powers that be" refused to acknowledge that there's actually enjoyment derived from the inhalation of tobacco smoke. They are so consumed with describing what happens to your body: your lungs, your heart, your throat, your respiratory system that they fail to remember that smoking is a fun thing to do. I suggested to my wife, the filmmaker, that a documentary showing the positive aspects of smoking might be well-received and might even assist her and me in giving up the death sticks. But no: it's not to be. Some of the filmmaker might need to take up the task.

And the fact that smokers have been virtually ostracized from the public indoors causes said smokers to bandy together and form their own clique. Non-smokers sometimes feel awkward or even ostracized themselves trying to join said clique because those guys are having so much fun puffing away. It's undeniable that the five or 10 minutes one spends smoking and socializing in a smokers circle is enjoyable and relaxing and something to look forward to even as the nicotine urges one on. If only non-smokers formed a different clique whose main rule would be that tobacco is forbidden; that might eliminate one of the main reasons to smoke; perhaps the main one.

So we stumble through, trying to figure out small methodologies to either cut back or eliminate this dreadful habit. The problem is that once you've been smoking for a while, some of your good friends may very well be added and heavy smokers and to eliminate some of the time that you spend with them almost feels like punishment. What to do? Find new non-smoking friends? Grin and bear it and just continue to go out for a smoke and not partake. Continue hacking away until you literally cough up a lung or dropped dead of a heart attack?

I choose not to give up hope, but I also choose not to give up cigarettes... just yet!

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