Is There A Smoker In The Room?
I liken life to rolling a very large, slightly lopsided boulder across an endless landscape. I strain with all my might and incredibly, it continues to move, never quite stopping.
My strength is always sufficient. Though at times fatigue overcomes me and I expect the cumbersome object of my attention to stop entirely, its center of gravity graciously pitches forward and it rolls surely, smoothly, rollickingly to new ground.
With ever-restored strength and spirit my back is to the undeniable task, confidence shaping the grin on my face. Every uneven tumble readies me for the next.
I demand to go one way, it goes another. I let go, it drags me along with it. I ignore the dense turning, lurching, sometimes spinning airborne mass and it pretends to leave me behind. Ahhh, but I've come to know this rounded worn rock. It's the landscape I need to understand.
Rock Rolling During New Years
Let's see, that would be... Christmas shopping and celebrating, feasting or not, work, vacation, family and visiting friends. Workouts, menu, relationships, moods, tempo, attitude (up, down or both at the same time). And that's just an everyday run-of-the-mill holiday season.
Remember 2000? Were you unaffected? It was pretty hard to not be affected. Like it or not, 2000 was big. Ask CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC or The Times. How about Y2K glitches, 1999 musings or New Year, New Millenium Resolutions?
Laree and I made a solid agreement not to smoke in 2000. Neither one of us actually smoke but we wanted to join those tough souls on IronOnline, our impassioned discussion group, who planned to quit that New Year.
Rush Hour Captives
Evidently 20% of the American population smoke cigarettes - that's one out of five, and I expect it to double in many other countries.
Driving home from the gym the other day I noticed the occupants of a car that kept pace with me as we bucked the rush hour traffic. Mom and Dad, I assumed, with a cute little four-year old busying herself with playful imaginings and chatterings and a tyke snuggly battened down in a car seat.
Both Mom and Dad in their 20's were smoking, the windows were closed and the air around them was a cloud. This is beyond ignorant. The kids had no choice, they were not even offered an open window.
I wanted to follow and confront them, report them, kick them and retrieve the kids as if from the hands of captors. I did nothing, what can you do? They got off at 41st Avenue; I kept my eyes on the road and smoldered.
Eliminating The Habit
As the tobacco industry has become a billion-dollar industry, so has the movement and business to stop smoking. Wrenching oneself from a smoking habit can be an awesome, almost frightening undertaking. It presents antagonizing temptation and requires extreme resolve, often bringing one to a hopelessness and self-reckoning that's grim.
I've had to eliminate a bad habit or two myself - er - more like they eliminated me. These are not the dearest of my lifelong memories. Thank God, smoking wasn't one of them. Cigarettes, it seems, dig in like rusty nails.
Once I declared war on my enemies, I recall that digging in those first three weeks - where life is saved - was the hardest. After that, the commitment superseded the need. The time invested and the territory reclaimed became more valuable than the habit.
The early days are the most critical and defining. They are also the meanest. Scratch your way through them any way you can. Imagine their defeat clearly yet casually.
Visualize Yourself Free
See yourself free of the dismal self image of a smoker and sense the relief of its hideous grasp. No way is too cowardly or weak, insignificant or extravagant, high tech, outdated or outrageous.
It is your precious life, after all. Precious and precarious - your responsibility. As hopeful and as optimistic as we are, as equipped and capable, as swift and courageous, daily living is rugged.
You need everything possible going for you. (By the way, I never get very far without prayer.) Don't hobble yourself, don't limit your struggling body's ability to breath, grow, run, resist disease, aspire, create and inspire.
Some Brutal Questions
I'm like most everyone else I know; selfish, part hypocrite, partly self-righteous, a little proud, a tiny bit humble. I try to be honest. As I write I do not mean any harm; I seek only good. May I ask a few brutal questions?
- When did it occur to you that smoking was no longer cool or popular, enjoyable or satisfying? That it was instead, unclean, smelly and destructive and should be scrapped? Did you act on this, or is this your first decisive step?
- Another fair question, please.
Does it bother you that some unkind and greedy bandits persuaded and provided you with such a delightful and soothing and murderous addiction? And, that these same powerful thieves steal a high school kid's perception and stick a cool cigarette in his or her mouth? Thanks for the ball and chain. I needed that.
You've Got To Stop
You've got to stop... you've got to stop. This isn't a mantra, it's an appeal. Don't give the tobacco industry another nickel.
Be a role model for kids, who are kids, innocent and susceptible. Think of your body as your favorite person, loved and honored. Don't mar it, scar it or abuse it. Take care of yourself and those around you.
As you visit IronOnline, you're on a muscle building web site. Have you recently reviewed the calamitous consequences of smoking tobacco? How it stunts muscle growth, exhausts B vitamins, C and a variety of other vital nutrients? Arteries that transport and valves that pump blood deteriorate. Lungs that purify blood and deliver oxygen become blackened with disease and graying skin pallor surrounds stained teeth, decaying gums and blinking eyes.
Healthy Lungs Vs. Smoker's Lungs.
Can we ever take a step back and really look at ourselves? Will we ever stop exchanging cliches and reading bumper stickers? Are we ever able to be silent and listen to our wisdom?
I mostly dwell restlessly in some hazy gray-white zone that imitates life just gone by, hypnotized, brainwashed, reflexive. A sheep, I am, one of the flock. Feed me, shelter me, comfort me. Unawareness is a dumb, drowsy place and when I notice its control I must vigorously shake myself loose.
Are you a smoker? Does this make you uncomfortable? Or angry? Or guilty? You're not the only one. Quit. For good.