"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

31 March 2011


My father once made the heartwarming observation that the only thing worse than a streetwalker who found religion was a reformed drinker or an x-smoker. They can preach in ways that would make a doomsday zealot cross their legs and blush. Something, which could drive one to drink and smoke just out of spite.

I guess that's why I've tried not to go on to much about when I decided to abstain from tobacco. When I got past my drinking-to-excess-a-little-too-often phase, I also opted to try and keep my mouth shut. These were my choices, and mine only. I do not like when one tries to shove their opinion down my throat, therefore it would be wrong of me to do that to someone else.

With some amusement, I've noticed a great many of x-smokers who do speak say they do not miss it. Either that, or wish they'd never started. Here was this great evil that so consumed part of their lives in the guise of Joe Camel or the Marlbero Man. Horrible.

I never minded smoking. Oh, sure, having asthma made it not only slow-suicidal and a little difficult to breathe sometimes, but so can very cold days or being in a city when the smog is up, but I took it as part of the deal of inhaling something burning. I enjoyed the sensation of the smoke slithering through my lungs, watching the patterns it made upon the air currents upon inhale and exhale. There was the certain bond smokers have. Just like heavy drinkers, or perhaps heroin addicts.

Yes, I have that bit of the junky in me...

In the two and half years since I had the urging to abstain from tobacco, I have smoked now and again. Fuck, when I was helping my father move from the Rub 'al Khali of the badlands, we shared a pack of cigarettes a day, it seemed. I'll have a few with him when we visit. I've bought my father packs now and again, but never one for myself. Somehow, that would be defeat. That would mean I'm a smoker again.

But I do miss it. Like a junky, I can start to rationalize. One or two fags a day wouldn't be nearly as bad as the half to whole pack a day I could chain-smoke through years ago without an afterthought.

It comes down to the price to be paid. As I have said before; all things for a price is but the nature of the deal. Only cheap things can be purchased with folding paper and jingling coins. It is blood and karma that is the true currency of the cosmos.

The kind of cigarettes I like cost six in paper for a pack. That's a package of good tea. The fixings of a good meal. A budget bottle of wine for a social occasion. Perhaps even a few decent spices.

However, the reason I've not taken up smoking again, no matter how much I miss it, how badly I jones sometimes, hits me between the eyes and smack in the chest on walkabout. Those times when I take a steep grade at a brisk pace, wanting to get to a flat spot to take in the view. My breath becomes labored, the atmosphere turning to fire within my lungs. I get where I want to go, catch my breath, and take in my surroundings.

And somewhere within my psyche, I remind myself why I abstained from smoking, and the six in paper price for a pack is hardly the reason...


  1. What a great post. I like the smell of cigars, but cigarettes are more of a reek than an aroma.

  2. Thank you. I'm still a sucker for pipe smoke myself.

  3. Whatever reason, good for you for giving up and staying given up.

    Love the writing as ever ("blood and karma" was particularly good).

  4. I grew up on second hand smoke, so I was told that it would almost be better if I just smoked myself.

    This was an engaging read and I quite liked what you said about the feeling of addiction and breaking from it.

  5. Thank you. This is the only physical/psychological addiction I've ever had and the dealing with it has been...interesting.