The instinctive human response to a sudden realization that “You only live once” is to seek out exciting ways to destroy that one life, because human nature makes no sense.
Anyway. I began smoking when I was around 16 years old. I was very depressed and I had this vague idea that it would help. I smoked my first cigarette while walking along my childhood subdivision’s dark streets. After that I felt horribly sick and went home to bed. Naturally, I smoked again after that until I could do it without feeling sick.
Before that, I had a nice voice. I don’t know the technical terms about voice, but it sounded very pretty. People asked me to sing all the time. It has never been as pretty since then.
My smoking career (insofar as a career is an occupation, with tradeoffs and investments – in this case, investments of time, money and health) blossomed in my first uni. There was a whole subculture there almost entirely built around being self-destructive – exemplified, of course, by smoking, although they also liked things such as weed, unplanned parenthood, abortions, anorexia, cutting, getting drunk between classes, unsafe sex, blackouts, missing classes, and near-suicides.
They lived for intensity of emotion, is what I’m saying. I never really got to the bottom of why they were like that, but their actions seemed to say that they all wanted to die. I didn’t want to die, but I liked poetry, and a lot of them did too. So I spent a lot of time with them.
After I left, I kept smoking because I needed something to do during breaks. And to look cool, of course. Basically, to seem as if I was doing something, even though I was doing the opposite of something (+), which is not even nothing (0) but actually ? (-) because I was burning (consuming) things that were destroying myself and the environment while producing relatively little enjoyment to myself and being of use to exactly no one else.
I don’t think smoking is a moral failing at all. But unlike other demonstrations of hedonism, the tradeoffs are so scant compared to what it takes from you. For one, the effects are mostly permanent. Drinking, having lots and lots of one night stands, drugs and things like that, if done with a modicum of responsibility, usually won’t have effects that last for the rest of your life.
(I ran out of steam at this point – maybe I need a co writer for topics like this. Eh)
thing I made notes for but am tired to write coherently –
One of the knee-jerk responses to the idea of quitting self-destructive but (questionably) pleasurable behaviors is like, “what’s the use of living long if you don’t enjoy it?” My response back to that response is that these are fake pleasures that bring no lasting satisfaction, and are actually preventing one from achieving the real pleasures which take time and effort, such as children and planting trees, building a home, connecting with people, solving cold fusion and world hunger, things like that. As exemplified by these two cases (the most compelling I’ve found so far, at least Loma Linda is, scientifically speaking, not so sure about Jennifer Beals, though she is very accomplished and mature and sexy and awe-inspiring)
Some suggestions for activities to motivate quitting – take up a sport so that you can see how quitting makes you feel stronger; make friends with people who don’t smoke, or get used to being alone (I chose the latter); take up some random hobby; read or listen to music inside during breaks, or take walks if you’re not in a horrible city with unbreathable air.