Saturday, July 18, 2015

Just don't

I heard a new commercial the other day that struck a chord with me. It brought back memories of a time when I was indestructible. The commercial was meant to scare and make you think about your life and choices.

The woman in the commercial has a monthly procedure to have an injection into her eyes. She has failing eyesight do to a choice she made, a life choice. She was a smoker. It caused her sight to fail and she lives with the choice and the pain for the rest of her life, yet she considers herself lucky compared to others.

Thirteen years, six months, thirteen days, nineteen hours and eighteen minutes ago (as of this moment), I had my last cigarette. I started like many other teens. Someone else smoked and I started to just do it. Everyone smoked at work, so I did too. I started with L&Ms. It was what my father smoked. It was the way of their generation. Sainted Mother was a Belair lady. She liked the menthol. Odd that although most all of my nearly forty aunts and uncles smoked, and likely many of my cousins, I was the only one of my parents five children that took up the habit. That is something I've not really understood.

I smoked for twenty-five years, but in the last few, I knew it was something I needed to quit, a habit that I had to break. It took time. It took several attempts and over a year in the last attempt. The first time I seriously attempted it was the summer before my sophomore year in college. I had stopped for three months, but the stress of the second year of the School of Architecture was too much. I caved. The second serious attempt ended the year my Beloved Father died, 1993.

It wasn't until 2001 that I again took up the challenge. As a long-time menthol smoker, I discarded them and switched to non-menthol. Cigs were getting expensive. I began buying brands I didn't like. It helped. I didn't want to smoke as much. You need to remember, this was a time before most of the now, well-knows cessation aids were common place. Another thing that helped, which is something I still don't like to do to this day is, I hate to carry things. Hauling around a pack and a lighter was irritating. I hate carrying a cell phone to this day, although I have one.

It came down to a test of my will. I wasn't going to let this insidious thing control my life any longer. At 2:15am on January 5th, 2002, I flicked my last butt out the window of my car as I passed over Cleveland Avenue on the outerbelt. I was coming home from my store's inventory. It was a struggle, something that for most of the next eight days I thought about continually. I needed to keep my hands busy. I gained twelve pounds in ten days. Then, it was like I was free. The craving vanished quickly and I haven't smoked a day since.

With all the information we now have about what tobacco does to the body, I find it hard to fathom how anyone can put a lit bomb up to their lips. I know the struggle. I know how hard it is to quit. But quit you must. It's not cool. You don't look hip (or whatever the word now-a-days is). You are simply chained to a decision you have made that will do nothing but cause pain and hardship in your life.

If you don't know the famous actor in this clip, well, that's how long I smoked. 
It's important ...