Nicotine Diaries [Entry No. 4]

Date: 26 January 2017

Status: Figuring that out

Topic: Well, here we are again

Years later, you rejoin me and this series from a smoky balcony, which is starting to seem like my natural habitat. I’m puffing away like a one-man locomotive, absent a care in the world (if only for the moment). Yes, Mom, I’m smoking again — sorry. Hold your goddamned rampaging Mexican horses, though.

Let’s break some numbers down. I once burned through three packs a week with ease, while now I’ve tamed the habit to a more reasonable rate of one pack weekly. That’s also roughly eighty bucks a month saved and who knows how much time. I am in moderately better shape than at my smoker’s zenith. Hell, I’m even employed. Things are going pretty well, for my standards, that is.

So why the fuck am I still smoking?

I mean it, guys. I genuinely don’t know. In the likely event you don’t know or remember, my prior argument cited a penchant for self-destruction as the primary reason for indulging in this, my dirtiest, most persistent of habits — and, in some regards, said argument holds true — but given an appreciable rise in emotional health/mental stability of late, the sustained death wish doesn’t make any sense.

Most of the time I spent smoking in days past was a direct reflection of boredom and depression. Cigarettes did, of course, also pair well with an assortment of vices I was regularly susceptible to letting get the better of me. Once more, though, I’m in a good place, so why continue on the reckless road to a laundry list of clinical, usually terminal ailments?

Here’s the bottom line: smoking is selfish. That is a simple notion to grasp, but less so to internalize. It’s selfish because smoking is, as we all know, an act of literal and incremental suicide. You are taking days, months, often years off of your already finite lifespan without having to bother with the typically associated nuisances of physical pain and bodily harm.

Which can be pretty convenient, under certain circumstances.

By the same token, conventional suicide — or whatever the converse of incremental — is fundamentally selfish, too. You relieve yourself of living in pain by escaping, giving up; and at the expense of your loved ones. Ultimately, however, it’s not just your parents, friends or significant others who end up being the victims. What I realized, what really made this reality click for me, is that suicide in any shape or form comes at the expense of your children.

My children are as yet unborn, perhaps even nonexistent, depending on my fortune in the near future or misfortune in the distant one. Even so, I’ve always wanted kids, cherished the thought of cherishing them. I am good with children (up until the point that I’m not), and find myself oddly looking forward to the challenge of parenthood — in spite of overwhelming evidence indicating that said challenge will utterly best me.

Halfway through a drag, I tell myself to “think of your kids, Dre”. Those words are even crazier to look at in type than they are to say aloud.

Let’s face it, smoking is, in its barest essence, an escape — one from work, relationships and responsibilities; it is a way of avoiding the relentless, unwelcome reminders that life is, indeed, something both inherently transient and full of adversity. Why sit through another tedious hour at work or ruinous one fighting with your spouse when you can duck out for an ever loyal cigarette?

There is without doubt something to be said for taking a break, giving yourself a break, but not when it becomes a habit, an anticipation. Every time I light up, I feel the same sort of latent, removed guilt which accompanies my occasional recognition of societal malignancies like racism or sexism which I don’t do enough to combat.

“It’s not directly effecting me now, and everyone else it’s effecting isn’t directly in front of me.”

But we all know that’s a load of bullshit, and no way to go about living. Think about it: when you, I smoke a cigarette, we engage in the same sort of negligence that cripples humanity on a global and historical scale. Religious beliefs and notions of a higher power aside, you cannot disrespect life without committing a fundamental moral crime, which is exactly what smoking entails.

Heavy, I know, not unlike my lungs and conscience after a few months of near constant abuse and atrophy. It has become discouragingly apparent that doing permanent damage to my body and those who would die for me isn’t sufficient incentive to stop killing myself slowly; so maybe it’s time to start considering the effects my death would have on those I would die for.

Look at me, letting my kids down even before conception.

Far be it from me to impose my guilt on you. These diaries remain diaries and nothing more; but it’s worth noting that selfishness is, in some ways, as much a crime as it is an inevitability — like drunk driving or using drugs. People are going to fuck up and indulge in these things because they are people.

That doesn’t make them any less deadly or irresponsible, though. Smoking is no different. You refrain from getting behind the wheel of a car when you’re drunk because it’s illegal, but the real reason it’s wrong has nothing to do with the law or even your life; it’s to do with the lives you are putting at risk and potentially forever ruining.

I’ve got one cigarette and a whole lot of self-loathing left to look forward to this evening.

I am now twenty five years old and far too young to be having kids or worrying about their well being. I am also far too old to not be considering the consequences of my actions. Even if racism and sexism aren’t effecting me most deeply, it still behooves me to combat them, because it’s not just about me. Similarly, I probably shouldn’t get behind the wheel of a car right now, because it’s not just about me. Selfishness kills — in more ways than one.

Moreover, selflessness saves lives, no matter how small or common the act may be. It’s my intent to start practicing that more frequently and sincerely (though my baby steps towards this goal more closely resemble those of a drunk [baby]). That is for my own good, the good of those I love, and chiefly for the good of those I would die for.

So if you ever get the chance to read this, you adorable little fuckers, stop blaming your mother for my genetic shortcomings and stay the fuck in school.

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