There Is No Try! – Eulogy for a Habit

by Brian

The moment I hit “Publish” and send this post into the blogosphere – a moment that will have come and gone by the time you read this – I plan to walk out to my garage and smoke my last cigarette. It’ll be a Camel Turkish Silver, my brand of choice, and I’ll enjoy it immensely.

Saying goodbye to smoking won’t be easy.

I’ve been telling folks for several months that I’m “trying” to quit smoking. But in the words of that intelligent and sagacious green Jedi, “Do or do not! There is no try!” So, like a good Padawan, I’m doing it.

I first lit up when I was a freshman in high school. My friend Dave had a cousin who 1) had easy access to cigarettes and 2) lived near a pool hall, so starting was relatively easy. Nothing beats shooting pool with friends, drinking an icy cold soda, and dangling a smoke from your lips. We were badass back then. But then we got busted. I don’t recall how my parents found out, but I will never forget my dad forcing me to chain smoke some unfiltered, manly variety of cigarette until I puked. Much fun! Either because of that experience or the lack of money, I didn’t smoke again for quite some time. Oh, I’d occasionally bum a smoke from someone and give it another try but it never stuck.

Then one day, just over four years ago, on a particularly boring drive to campus for my Human Anatomy & Physiology class, I pulled into a convenience store on the corner of Crescent Avenue and State Street and bought a pack of Marlboro Ultra Lights. Reasons for doing so include:

  • I had weight loss surgery two years prior and was running out of things to with my hands besides eating while driving.
  • . . .

Funny . . . As I write this, I can’t really think of another reason. I could make up some bullshit about wanting to try something different, or how I desired to experience the joy that could be found by smoking in front of the building between classes, or how I needed something to do that was sneaky and daring and mine-all-mine, but it would sound like . . . well . . . bullshit. Maybe it’s just that simple.

Anyway . . . it stuck – big time.

I have since become a very good smoker. Almost two packs a day when I’m on the road a lot. Smoking in the car is an inexpressible pleasure; the wind in my face, the bass pounding the back of my seat, and ashes flying out the window and into the slipstream.

Nothing beats the feel of warm smoke in my lungs on a cold, winter morning; it mingles with the steam from my coffee and helps me open my eyes and get in the mood for the busyness of life.

Cigarettes have been there for me when times get stressful, like just before a big test or when a paper is due in less than an hour. Last semester, I took a philosophy course which required extensive reading and an explication paper once a week. My favorite time of day for sixteen weeks was those few hours on school mornings when I’d go to Bob Evans, order biscuits and gravy and coffee with cream, set up my office in the corner of the smoking section and smoke and read and write about Descartes or Kant.

When I’m home, smoking gives me at least one chance every hour or so to be alone in my garage or on my porch and think and hear only the tiny sounds of my tiny town instead of the roar of the circus I leave inside the door.

Yes, I will miss smoking.

But saying goodbye is something that must be done.

Now.

What will I not miss about smoking?

  • Aryn’s “No! No Smoke-oh!” chant.
  • Zoe’s plea for a pinky promise I could never give.
  • Ethan’s coughing as he sits in the seat behind me on road trips.
  • Ty’s innocent, spontaneous looks of disgust and the way he tries to plug his nose without me noticing when he’s in my car with me.
  • My wife’s worried expressions that seem to crop up more often lately.

Am I quitting for my family? Some would suggest that this is a bad idea, for only when we do something for ourselves will it actually stick. I started smoking for me and it stuck quite easily. And now I am choosing to quit for me. Maybe it’s just that simple.

I need to wrap this up . . . I’m dying for a smoke.

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