January 1, 2009
I gave up smoking in 2008. Not forever, just for the year. I don’t think I would have quit forever so I wouldn’t have tried so I would have failed. But I knew I could do it for one year, so I did. My goal in life isn’t to remove all vice from my life, it’s to manage it. There’s a difference between vice and sin, and I don’t try to manage sin, sin isn’t something one manages.
My rule for New Year’s resolutions are that they can’t be a sin I have to give up. Sins should be abandoned with no association to a date. So my New Year’s Resolutions end up being about little bad habits, smoking, drinking, speeding, cussing.
This confuses people because some are convinced that smoking is a “sin” because it harms the body and we only have bodies since many don’t believe in the soul. That’s the hysteria behind most smoking laws, not that it’s a supernatural evil to smoke, but that it’s harmful to the materials of your body.
I’m not advocating harming the body, but there’s a reason why great men have had no problem drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes, they were aware that there are artistic, immaterial merits to pleasure and taste that transcend mere health. Health is over-rated. Many unhappy, mean, stupid people are healthy. My children are already culturally programmed to not enjoy the sugar cereal they get as a treat, “This is bad for us.” I push it on them, “Don’t believe people who sum up the goodness or badness of something based solely on health. Cereal also tastes good.”
The smell of cigarette smoke never once bothered me in a restaurant. Now I miss a smokey diner. My children aren’t hurt when the lady smokes at the public park, but they ARE hurt when that lady cusses while using her cell phone. Soul pollution, not lung pollution. My soul will out-live my lungs by some measure.
I only gave up smoking last year to demonstrate to myself that I will be a slave to nothing…at least not for a year. Perhaps my person only found the strength to give up smoking because it knew I would smoke again some day. I’m aware that my feelings will orchestrate seemingly natural feelings to sabotage my plans. I can live with that as long as I don’t smoke for that year, perhaps I’ll quit forever some day, but not today.
So let it be known that as of today I can have a cigarette…I could easily go inhale a pack right now. But I set another goal knowing how badly I want to return to the vice of smoking. I won’t smoke again until I run a marathon. Take that! I wanted to run a marathon and know that I could never train for that distance and smoke at the same time. I need my lungs to be fat and juicy to take in enough oxygen.
I gave up coffee today for one year. That’s my 2009 resolution. No coffee. I usually drink just about two pots a day. No cheating with tea either. I knew myself well enough with cigarettes that I’d have to give up cigars, pipes and chew or I’d just use those to extend my tobacco slavery. I’m not going to go psycho on caffeine, because it’s in chocolate and diet coke and I have a little chocolate and diet Coke every week so big deal. If I start doing six diet cokes a day I’ll know that those will have to go too.
No coffee today.
No cigarettes today.
I ran two miles this morning.
I lost 28 pounds last year and kept it off. I’m at 192 right now (and 6’8″ tall).
My Beloved got me a jogging GPS (Garmin Forerunner) so I can keep track of my run distances. You might remember that last fall I got up to 16 miles on my long run. That’s my personal record. Then it happened. I helped set up our church fall festival and thought I’d throw a few hay bails like I did in high school. My back jacked. Muscles felt like a tangled up swing-set then drawn tight.
The hardest thing to do was to give up running. This was my new discovery this year and now it was taken away from me. My new vice that made me feel great was gone. I tried to run a few times and had to quit after a mile. After two weeks of pain I finally went to see a chiropractor.
I have to apologize to every chiropractor I ever insulted by calling your practice a bunch of voo-doo wave the bloody chicken leg around the office snake oil. My friends went to chiropractors for years and never got better. I was in so much pain that I finally gave this quack in Pasadena a try…90% of my pain vanished in my first 20 minute visit. I couldn’t believe it. He used this little jack-hammer thing that pushes the spine just a little bit at a time.
The pain comes back but not as bad with each recurrence. Just this week I got the go ahead to start running again. I did a mile the day before yesterday and I was terrified to agitate my back injury. We’re taking it slow. A lot is at stake with my running. I’m not talking about the smoking either.
I’m at work putting this image of me to death this year. It’s that image of the scrawny “inside boy” who finished last at every sport event because I knew I couldn’t do it. I finished behind the girls, behind the blind guy in the portable iron lung, I thought drawing was enough. I finished a half marathon in 1987 and said, “I could never turn around and do that again like those marathon runners.”
The marathon is a hairy run. I’m not setting myself up for failure in admitting that I may not be able to finish. I’m 42. My knees give me a little trouble on cold days and longer runs since I only jog on cement. My back is this ghost always threatening to come back on the scene and take everything away.
Ready. Steady. Go.