Friday, February 11, 2005

Day Twenty-Six: "Smoking is a distraction from the distraction of wanting to smoke."

Day Twenty-six.

This is the sixth time I have written this sentence. I’ve been writing this sentence, in one form or another, on and off, for over an hour.

The first time I wrote it I had to go and lie down afterwards. The next time I wrote it, it caused me so much confusion, I had to go for a walk. The last time I wrote it, I was overcome with hot-and-cold flushes in the process, and needed a breath of air to take my mind off it.

Later, when I came back to it, the syntax was all upside-down and back-to-front, and the sentence no longer made any sense. Or maybe it was just my brain that was upside-down and back-to-front and no longer making any sense. It’s hard to tell the difference.

In fact, what’s a sentence? What’s a brain? Who am I and what am I doing here? Who are you? What am I writing about? I’ve forgotten.

In case you are wondering: I gave up smoking on Wednesday. I haven’t had a cigarette since 1.43 pm, Wednesday the ninth of February 2005.

I must admit that I am thinking about cigarettes right now. I’ve been thinking about cigarettes since 1.43 pm, Wednesday the ninth of February 2005.

I suspect I will still be thinking about cigarettes at 1.43 pm on the ninth of February 2035 - whatever day that turns out to be.

Now this is odd, because actually, despite thinking about cigarettes for the last two days, it hasn’t really worried me. It’s inevitable that I would be thinking about cigarettes. What else would I be thinking about? I’ve been thinking about them for the last thirty-odd years.

It’s only begun to be distressing since I started writing this. For some reason, since I started writing this, the thought of cigarettes has assumed a beneficent glow like all the saints in heaven were smiling down to me in the form of a little white stick full of dried leaves, that I can stick in my mouth and smoke.

Er, what was I talking about?

OK, I’ve just remembered again. That’s because, since writing that last sentence I have been over the road and bought myself a packet of Amber Leaf rolling tobacco, rolled myself a great big fat one, and smoked it. I’m smoking it now, even as I am writing.

Now this is truly absurd. I stuck a fag in my mouth, and immediately knew how to write again.

This is all very annoying and not at all pleasant to contemplate, knowing that I am an addict and likely to remain so for the rest of my life.

The worst of nicotine addiction is that it really doesn’t do anything for you. The most it does is to keep you enslaved to nicotine. Smoking is a distraction from the distraction of wanting to smoke. That‘s why I couldn‘t write. Not because smoking does anything for me particularly, but because, while I wasn‘t smoking, that‘s all I was thinking about: smoking.

Nicotine addiction is the state of being addicted to nicotine. No more, no less. It offers you no more in the way of mental and emotional enhancement than a slap in the face with the half-rotten tentacle of a giant deep-sea squid. Or rather, it’s a little like being slapped in the face with the half-rotten tentacle of a giant deep-sea squid, non-stop, all day, every day, permanently, with only the prospect of an occasional relief when you roll your next cigarette.

Well I’ve failed, yet again. I’ve just smoked another half-rotten tentacle thing. It did no more for me than the last half-rotten tentacle thing. But at least I’ve managed to finish writing this.

I’ll be giving it up again tomorrow.


1 comment:

Chandira said...

Chris, it takes about 8 attempts, apparently. hang in there. I don't think it matters if you don't go cold turkey immediately. That guilt cycle is what keeps one hooked..
I gave up 12 years ago, and didn't smoke for 9. Now I have about one half of a cigarette every 6 weeks, on average.. Just so you know.

I think a lot of it is self-identity. You think of yourself as a 'smoker', you know? Try thinking of yourself as an ex-smoker, and see what happens. Most of it is in the head, you're right about that.