I have a lot of personal “Anniversary” dates. Because, over the years, I have quit numerous things that were not so great for my well-being. I always forget the “date” on the “date” it seems. And then a few days later, it will hit me. Hey! On Tuesday, it was 38 years ago, that I quit “Skipping to the Loo.” Or some such thing.
But today is one of those days, and I was reminded this morning. On February 1, 2001, I quit smoking. 02.01.2001. Neat numbers, huh?
I had been a pretty heavy smoker up until that point. Okay. Very heavy, like 3 packs a day, heavy. I was supposed to quit January 1st. But I kept taking off my nicotine patches and firing up. Finally, it started to give way, and I had my last cigarette on February 1.
I absolutely loved to smoke, as many of my old friends might attest. In fact, “smoking cigarettes” felt like a friend to me. I would lean on them in times of trouble, or worry, or sadness. Conversely, if there we any type of celebration, or cause to be happy, I would invite that cigarette to my personal party space. I used to draw that cigarette smoke it like it was the breath of all creation.
One time, at a concert at Nutter Arena, I was forced to smoke in one of their roped-off-designated areas outside. I was happy to comply. However, I had just purchased a beer, and the Nutter Center would not let people take any alcohol past its exits. I told the officer standing guard that was a serious flaw in the design of their Usage-Constitution. The conflict was resolved by my suggestion to keep the hand with the beer indoors, and hold the cigarette outdoors, my legs straddling the Mason-Dixon Line.
So many little stories about our times together. Those cigarettes and I.
Then there was the time I was driving my 1969 Volkswagen. I was about 17 years old, and my best friend Theresa was in the passenger seat. We were headed down the hill of DeWeese Parkway, when I dropped a cigarette in my lap. I opened the door and slid out, letting the car go, with Theresa in it. In a matter of feet, the Bug hit a snowbank. It sustained a dent in the hood. (One of the football players pounded it out before I had to go home.). And, Theresa had recovered the still-lit-cigarette by the time I approached the open door, saving the seat from a burn mark. Yes, a stream of wholesomely fond memories come rushing back.
But, as you know, I had to part ways with the smokes.
And it has been 17 years since the day.
I was going to be one of “those people” who would be very tolerant of the smoking population. I vowed that I would still linger among them, and show my support.
Then something happened. I still understand the need to smoke, and I do not fault them for that. At all. It is hard to quit, even if you really want to.
The thing that changed for me, is my physical ability to withstand smoke. The moment I smell it, I feel almost ill. It is really difficult to breathe it in, on any level. So, I still wish all the goodness of the world on the smoking population, I just can’t really be around them when they are in mid-puff.
We humans are an odd lot, I will tell you. Everyone has their “thing” or their quirk, or their guilty pleasure. We, for the most part, like to feel comfort and content. We enjoy things that give us satisfaction, and delight. Be it ice-cream, or bourbon, chocolate, or tobacco. It might be junk cars, or chess sets. Heck, it could be cauliflower. It depends on the body, and the brain, standing there. My Dad, the King of Self-Control, used to say that “moderation” is the key.
So today, maybe we could all do a thing that makes us happy, or that gives us joy.
And today, maybe even be moderate too.
And then today, give thanks. And share that joy with another.
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
― Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi
“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”
― Marianne Williamson