Monday, May 31, 2010

No Smoking

There are certain things that never cease to amaze me. I feel it is not an exclusive thought. Guess everyone thinks so. In fact one of the many questions that Yama asks Yudhishtra is ‘what is the most surprising thing of all’ and his reply that pleases Yama was, ‘When people die everyday, each one believes that they would live forever’. For each, there is some surprise!!!

This sudden pearl of wisdom occurred to me when I was thinking about smoking. Actually, I smoke. And I am not proud when I say that. As a person who claims to be very intelligent and as one with arrogance that the world is infested with fools, I can never be proud making such a statement. I am aware that it is a dirty and unhealthy habit and the world has come too far from the days when it used to be advertised ‘Majority of the Doctors prefer smoking Camels’. Neither it is macho anymore to smoke. For that matter, I don’t ‘macho’ matters anymore at all. Girls would love to see a guy with a cooking apron on him than him straddling a horse. Nobody is a cowboy anymore.

So, but for the addiction I have developed, I don’t smoke for any other reason. The dangers of the ugly habit are well known to me, but then there are so many such misadventures in one’s life. Whenever, an article appears with the life threatening effects of smoking I cringe unto myself and pretend that I haven’t seen that, as much as one does not see a credit card statement when it is received, as if not seeing that would make the expenses vanish. But as it is in both cases, the damage is already done. The constant reiteration of what wrong one has done does no good. It makes one feel being punished for crimes committed in the past. You may ask me. Why is that you are cribbing about all these? There are plenty of answers to that. But a couple of them are relevant to this subject.

No 1 is that, yes I am still smoking but why is that you are a judge? How frequently do you play the judge role in your fraternity on other issues? Assuming that there was a womanizer in your group, considering the fact that this habit has also become life threatening apart from the moral scrutiny one can apply, would you ask him while being in a group on why he is womanizing? Would you preach him about the evils of that habit while you are sitting in a group? The only thing you will ever do is hide your sister away. OK if there was some reservation on such a sensitive subject, why don’t you ask such questions about drinking? Would you sit in a meeting and talk about someone’s drinking habit?

The only guys whom I listen to on this subject are people who people who quit the smoking habit and that too when they share that with me in private and not get into a preaching mode about why I should quit. Not every robber turned holy and wrote Ramayana. And these guys also overdo their part by being suggestive about their ability to quit. Well of course it is a great job, but why are you saying that in a way that the people who haven’t done that are jerks? You were one day before yesterday buddy!! And how come suddenly you think it is a platform to showcase your will power which was zilch till a few days back and it continues to zilch even today in many other habits? These converts sometimes are more dangerous than the original fanatics.

No 2 is that, please try to understand the habit. It is an addiction. Brain cells get addicted to Nicotine and when there is short supply there is a craving and when the supply is made it quietens. What starts as a artificial high initially becomes a dependence and it so happens at one time that the absence of nicotine causes trouble than the presence of it giving a high. A classic addiction story! More and more is required to maintain what you felt at the beginning. Sometimes it is also a physical habit. The thrill of lighting it! As it is with me! I throw half my cigarette away and I act as if I am in a rush to die. Well maybe yes or maybe no. But the fact is that, it becomes a habit. And it becomes such a part of your being, the very thought of letting it to go, pains.

At one end there is cold logic and at the other end there is this blind love. It is similar to what a young girl would go through when she has to choose between her parents and the guy whom she loves. The love for parents is definitely strong, but at the same time the prospect of letting go of love appears disastrous. Whenever I think of quitting, a drama plays out in my mind as if I am losing a part of me which surprisingly is not preferred as against losing the whole of me. The quote of Epicurus comes to my mind ‘Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come and when death has come, we are not’. So, all the scary images on the cigarette cartons, articles about the evil stick is so distant when it is being read, because currently it is about letting your love go. Somehow you believe that your parents will understand and in this case somehow you will escape from death. And the illogical and impossible fight between brain and mind takes place where the mind wins most all the time. And I know the mind and brain are the same and that presents the classic Smoker’s Dilemma. To quit or not to quit!

Now, coming back to advisors, there are two kinds of preachers. One who think that this is an unhealthy habit and are true when they advise you to chuck the habit! The second set that has the moral high ground of not smoking and look at me as if I would run off with their wives because I smoke. This is not a frigging Menthoplus advertisement right? If at all that happens it would happen because, she doesn’t want to be with you and not my moral ineptitude that lures her way.

Anyway, the crux of the matter is that whoever advises about the ill-effects of smoking should also understand about it as a habit and as a chemical dependence that has been created. It is something like one of your friends proudly proclaiming that he is a 100% non vegetarian. He is addicted to meat. Simple! In fact this is a guy whom you need to be careful about!

But I am aware that I can’t speak my way through. It is an unhealthy habit. It is bad for me and also people around me. I can die. But just that you don’t kill me with your advice before cancer catches up.

If at all there is some motivation for me to quit, it is to stop listening to advice from every kid to peer.

And I am going to…