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Friday, February 11, 2011

Smoker's Diary #15: Conversation with a Smoker Recently Diagnosed with Lung Cancer


They are in a park, somewhere cinematic and annoyingly clean.
(She lights a cigarette)
You just can’t reach some people.
(She smiles.) One wouldn’t hurt.
Yes, it starts at one.
The thing is this is a conscious choice.
What, having cancer?
No, me, smoking.
Others started smoking when they were in their teens. Peer pressure, wanting to look cool or be a rebel. Others did it to fit in. There are those who started late, maybe in their twenties or late thirties because they had so many problems that smoking was the only thing that calmed them down.
In your case…
In my case, I started to smoke because I wanted to.
No external factor that push you to smoke.
Yes. It was just me. The finger points only at me. At 25, I decided to smoke.
A conscious decision to make yourself sick
That statement is loaded with judgment. It is unfair and you are biased because you are a doctor.
Okay. Judgment suspended. I am listening.
You see there are two kinds of people: those who smoke and those who do not. All you have to do is choose which one you are and things will be easy.
I don’t buy that bull shit.
If you really believe you are a non-smoker, you’ll never smoke, whatever happens, whoever urges you to smoke, or whatever shit comes your way. It would NEVER enter your mind. Smoking is not even in your list of choices. In a room full of heavy smokers, you will never have the urge.
But some people only smoke at parties. What do you call them then?
Those people only smoke because the occasion calls for it. It is like drinking a glass of beer but drinking one bottle of beer doesn’t mean you are an alcoholic. After the party, when you are back to your normal life, you don’t smoke. Nothing urges you to light a cigarette. The need is gone.
What is a true smoker then?
If you are a smoker, then you will smoke no matter what. Even if you are surrounded by non-smokers, you will always find a reason to smoke. Even if the entire city was declared a non-smoking zone, you will make that trip out of town just to smoke. Sure you can blame others for influencing you, or you can tell people that it’s your stressful job that drove you to smoking but it’s all bull shit. Inevitably, you were the one who inhaled that first lighted stick. A person must accept that he is a smoker and stop beating himself up trying everything to quit because he will just make himself miserable. And the world is full of miserable smokers trying their best to quit and failing miserably.
But what if you really want to quit?
If you really want to quit, you will.
It can’t be that easy.
Yes it is.
Like I said I don’t buy that.
I am not selling. I am just saying that if you smoke and you really want to quit, you will move heaven and hell to quit. You will make that effort even if it kills you because you are making a conscious choice to quit. You want to be a non-smoker.
So you’re saying that those smokers who say they will quit but never are liars.
That’s a sweeping statement.
If you really are a non-smoker you will never smoke or if you are smoking, you will quit. Smokers never quit, even if they try, they know they will fail because they are smokers. To a smoker, trying to quit is part of the thrill. It is like a man slut trying to be a virgin again. From time to time, a smoker will stop smoking for a long time, then after a convenient time has passed, he will light a cigarette again, and the first inhalation is like sex for the first time. It is like regaining your virginity and then losing it again after a big hard fuck. It is like being de-virginized again.
So smokers are substituting sex for cigarettes.
Now that is a sweeping statement.
You just either made the best defense for smokers or the worse.
(Long pause)
In short, something internal changed in the person. His core turned, moved upside-down or turned one hundred eighty degrees. Something had made him changed.  He is no longer the same person when he started smoking
Or when he refused to smoke,
Yes. You are not the same nervous giddy young boy who was so afraid of being bullied and ridiculed in school. You have become more confident, strong, aware and maybe even vengeful.
Or you are unaware of your subtle evolution into a new person; day by day, stick by sick or no stick after no stick, you are changing. Are you saying it is not the cigarettes that changed you but it is the most obvious sign of change?
Well, well, well, you’re becoming analytical this morning
Indulge me. Sometimes, out of the blue, something happened and they finally see the big picture. They had an epiphany –
It’s not always an epiphany. Epiphany is overrated sometimes. One reason I started smoking, it’s not the main, but a trivial reason was smoking would set me apart from my other quote unquote “good” friends
With quotation marks? Hmm, What I mean. Here’ I’ll give you an example.  A co-worker told me that she knew a guy who smoked one pack a day.  He smoked for many years, maybe 10 or more.  Then he made a conscious decision to quit because of his family and, of course, for health.  He didn’t smoke for almost 10 years. Then the big thing happened, typhoon Ondoy.  It flooded their entire well furnished beautiful house.  Everything was gone. Luckily they all survived, hugging each other on the roof.  When the flood finally subsided, they went down stairs and saw everything that they possessed wet and covered in mud.  Even the memories that they made in the house seemed like they were drenched in black mud.  Days later, I don’t know exactly when, maybe the second or third day of cleaning, he had the urge to smoke.  He bought one pack, went to the center of what used to be their living room, lighted a cigarette and started smoking again.  He asked his brother to get the camera and take a picture of him smoking.
As a souvenir, nor more like a commemoration,
He even posed. I am not exactly sure if it was his brother that had the camera because like I said, all their belongings were ruined; perhaps he was just a friend.
That’s how he reacted to the disaster
He saw the big picture
What big picture is that?
I don’t know. I think we all see different “Big Pictures.”
“The big picture gotta a big white cloud” (singing)
What’s that song? I’ve never heard of it.
You have bad taste in music, as always.
It is time to quit, don’t you think?
You have no credibility.
Me? And why is that?
You hit on me because you thought I was sexy and I was smoking then when you approached me.
Guilty. But in my defense, I did say that you should stop smoking.
After we –
Well, it was the perfect moment.
This place is annoyingly perfect. (As she threw her cigarette butt in the trash can)

By Rob San Miguel [May 10, 2008]


Smoker's Diary #16

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