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Monthly Archives: January 2013

In The Secret Art, You’re The Karate Kid!

Daniel: Hey – you ever get into fights when you were a kid?
Miyagi: Huh – plenty.
Daniel: Yeah, but it wasn’t like the problem I have, right?
Miyagi: Why? Fighting fighting. Same same.
Daniel: Yeah, but you knew karate.
Miyagi: Someone always know more.
Daniel: You mean there were times when you were scared to fight?
Miyagi: Always scare. Miyagi hate fighting.
Daniel: Yeah, but you like karate.
Miyagi: So?
Daniel: So, karate’s fighting. You train to fight.
Miyagi: That what you think?
Daniel: [pondering] No.
Miyagi: Then why train?
Daniel: [thinks] So I won’t have to fight.
Miyagi: [laughs] Miyagi have hope for you.


NRT – No Way!

Nicotine replacement products are a billion dollar industry. Wherever you go, you see folks literally stuck together with patches, sucking like demented vacuums on fake plastic cigarettes, and masticating madly on that strange bitter gum. (Mmmmm. Bitter gum).

I know. I was that man. And I accept that, for many people worldwide, these products work as a substitute for cigarettes, and even as an aid to help them quit. Not for me. As I woke in the middle of the night, unstuck myself from the sheets (where my two patches had welded to my lost gum), I lit another smoke, almost overdosed on the stuff, and ruminated.

This nicotine replacement therapy wasn’t so much a crutch, as a torture. It was like giving an alcoholic one Scotch a day and saying: “Go ahead, my friend. Knock yourself out”. The problem being that there was always the potential for that Scotch to turn from one into two. Then three. Then never enough.

And that’s the problem with NRT products. Like cigarettes themselves, they are never enough.

More gum. More patches. More money.

More torture…….

“The horror! The horror”!

So said  Kurtz in the “Heart Of Darkness”. But it easily describes me when I smoked, and the way I felt about actually stopping. It was sheer fear, a kind of irrational terror. In my more Poe like, Gothic moments, I actually imagined that I was a man made of smoke. By inhaling it, I re-created myself, ethereal, elusive, untouchable in the fog.  

I must never cease.  

Of course, I now know that was the Nicotine Brigade playing their old tricks again. They created the fear. They only needed me to keep them alive. As I breathed them in, they prospered. As my habit deepened, they grew. As they messed with my glutamate levels, they took snapshots of me, happy and smiling in the mist, and spread them around the corridors of my mind, like so many reminders of their importance. 

Now I’ve stopped, I rarely glimpse those photographs, but when I do, they spin away from me easily, like tumbleweed in the West wind. 

And I remember what I learned when it came to the secret art of stopping:

“There is nothing to fear but fear itself……”

The Ash Is Falling From Me….

Only until this cigarette is ended,
A little moment at the end of all,
While on the floor the quiet ashes fall,
And in the firelight to a lance extended,
Bizarrely with the jazzing music blended,
The broken shadow dances on the wall,
I will permit my memory to recall
The vision of you, by all my dreams attended.
And then adieu,—farewell!—the dream is done.
Yours is a face of which I can forget
The color and the features, every one,
The words not ever, and the smiles not yet;
But in your day this moment is the sun
Upon a hill, after the sun has set.

Edna St Vincent Millay

I Can’t Get By Without You..Nooo Way…

How I USED To Feel About Cigarettes!

Another Year, Another Smoke. Maybe not?

I remember that pressure. Almost as soon as the chimes died away, and the last bars of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ faded into the night, that fear. That utter fear. What if?

What if I could not keep my promise, to myself, and more importantly, to others? What if, like so many times before, I failed?

What if I could NEVER stop smoking?

Looking back, this was the cruellest deception of all. The worst con-trick (and there were many) perpetrated on my brain by our old enemy, the Nicotine Brigade.

Because stopping smoking isn’t scary at all. Not unless you are looking to be scared, or piling pressure on yourself by quitting on a specific date. And on which date do most smokers try to stop?

That’s right. Perhaps the worst day of the year to attempt it. New Years Day. A time for new beginnings, a time for a fresh start, and given all that, a time for another cigarette if ever there was one! The very thought of a bright new dawn was enough to make me want to light up and smoke myself hoarse. What would that brand new day be without a cigarette? Much more scary, who would I be? Where would I go, and what would I do, without my constant companion?

I now know, having studied the secret art of stopping, that the answer was simple. I would be exactly the same person as I was before. The only thing absent would be the cigarette. But the first lesson as I set out on this secret quest was simply this.

Never, ever pick a date to stop smoking.

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