Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Giving Things Up

A good friend of mine one time, some time ago, gave up drinking, smoking and coffee at the same time. They all went together, as far as he was concerned, and they were kind of killing him. He was a binge drinker, a couple of times a week he’d go on a jag that left him too sick to drink for a day or two. He’d drink coffee all the while, exotic grinds from all over the world, real, strong coffee, black, with this special, really expensive sugar that he liked that came from Jamaica, West Indies, the same sugar they used to make the premium rum. He always had lots of kinds of cigarettes on hand, Shermans, Galoise, Pell Mells, Kools, all kinds of stuff. He loved it all, but it was killing him. So he pulled the plug. He said that the cigarettes was the only hard one to give up. From the alcohol, all he noticed was that he had a lot more time on his hands, time to fill with something else. The coffee, he just tapered off to avoid the headaches and that was that. But the cigarettes, missing those was a pain in his heart for a long, long time.

I had an idea yesterday, one of those things that suddenly comes to you. Epiphany, satori, they all come suddenly. It occurred to me that when I was in the late-grade-school era, and high school, I was a full year or more younger than most of my classmates. I was sixteen when I graduated from high school. So it occurred to me, for the first time, that maybe I liked smoking because I was subconsciously trying to look more mature, as mature as the other boys in my class. Honestly it never occurred to me that I was younger than them, I never realized it. I had known them all forever. I can tell you that the girls that I knew were also aware of it. But not me. So maybe I was off in my dream world trying to look like the Marlboro man in the hopes that I could make up for my oddly out of place youth.

These things come to us slowly, and are only partially understood. Maybe it does us some good to consider them. I hope so.

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